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The History Of the 

Halifax Congregational Church 
of Halifax, Massachusetts 

<With notes and references concerning the inhabitants, environs and lifestyles 
of the Halifax Town and wider Community) 

Volume One: Through 1900 

by Reverend Joseph A. C. Wadsworth III, 

Pastor & Chronicler 

For the 275th Anniversary of the Church , 

Concurrent with the Town of Halifax . 

Autumn, 2008 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 2 

A Preface 

History is always an introduction towards future and greater 
discoveries. This study of the Halifax Congregational Church Family 
with notes on Halifax, Massachusetts, as a community and its environs, 
will hopefully serve to enable countless future historians to build upon its 
humble foundations. Unfortunately, even referenced historical research 
is always an imprecise science as well as an ongoing endeavor. The 
connection of chronologies, events and scenarios to form a unified 
rendering of the past may be but one facet of a many faceted legacy. It is 
with great devotion and honor that I present to my church family (and its 
community) part of its own story and heritage. In my attempt to reach 
behind the folklore, legend, hearsay and unsubstantiated themes, as well 
as the axiom that history "tends to be the view of the victorious", I have 
uncovered a story of genuine people immersed in bold ideals whose 
greatness extends to the present day. My intent is to seek out original 
sources and extensively referenced accountings as much as is possible 
and draw from them to accent and add credibility to this study. I have 
used the "footnote" format so the reader will have readily available 
sources to seek further information or read additional commentary. An 
additional General Index of Resources is found in the Appendices as well 
as a listing of archivists and historical societies valuable for continued 
exploration of this rich story. All websites and internet-based citations 
are correct as of the publishing/release date of this work. It is indeed my 
pleasure to share with you this story of the Halifax Congregational 
Church as they, as WE, Celebrate our Two and Three-Quarters 
Centuries in Existence ! May our ZTS*** Anniversary be but a 
steppingstone to greater celebrations. 

Reverend Joseph A. C. Wadsworth III 
Pastor and Chronicler. 

© Rev. Joseph A,C. Wadsworth III and The Halifax Congregational Church, 

Parvis e glandibus quercus 


Permitte Divis Cetera, ^ 

1 K. 

tall oaks from little acorns grow" and "All else leave to God". 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


1 Setting the Scene : 

A) Prehistory 7 

B) The Religious Context and Background 

-I Prior to the landing in Plymouth 16 

-U After the landing- Establishing of Colonial Religion 
and society, and Early Inroads Westerly into the 
Plymouth County interior. 22 




2 Beginnings of The Town of Halifax and the First 
Ecclesiastical or Religious Society 

A) Settlers arrive and a need arises for a new church 
Society and Town 50 

B) DEED TRANSCRIPTION: February 11, 1732: 
Formation of the Land for the Halifax 
Congregational Church 56 

C) Formation of the First Parish Church of 

Halifax and the Town of Halifax 60 

<INSERT HISTORY: Etymology and background of 
the Name '^Halifax" as well as facts about the 
English town "Halifax" 74 

3. The Formative Years of Church, Town and Nation- 1700's 

A) The Early Years of the Church of Christ in Halifax: 

1734- 1760 79 

B) The Stamp Act and Revolutionary War Period: 

1760-1790 109 

<LIST> Revolutionary War Soldiers 132 

4, From Seism to Vision - 1800's to 1850 

A) 1790-1830 : Denominationalism, Associations and 

Revivalism 145 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 

B) 1830-1854: Schism, Recovery and a new 

Meetinghouse is built 163 


CHURCH FORMATIONS CA 1825-1830> 166 

<Record of the Construction of the Meetinghouse and 
supporting Pew Rents from as chronicled in Church 

Records 198 

< Insert History >THE MOBILITY OF THE "OLD" 

5. The Mid-1 800's and Civil War Era. 

A) 1855-1860- Pre- Civil war era 211 

Insert History: Womens Missionary Work and Sewing 
Circle: 1842- 1900+ 213 

B> The CIVIL WAR Years and Reconstruction Years. 

1860's - 1870's 226 

> Membership List -1872 235 

6. The Final 25 Years : Our Country's Centennial, Church 

Incorporation and The Church in the Heart of Halifax.... 238 
>Pew Arrangement around the time of the 

Incorporation of the Church 257 

>Membership List- 1900 270 

>Membership Reports as Gleaned from the Yearbooks of 
the Congregational Churches - 1833 - 1900 271 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 5 


Appendix A: Moving structures ca 1855 273 

Appendix B- Incorporation of the Town of Halifax (With sub- 
paragraph highlighted) 274 

Appendix C - Halifax Congregational Church- 1734 -Articles of Faith 
and Church Covenant 277 

Appendix D: Parallel Comparisons of early local Church Covenants : 

Halifax-Plympton-Middleboro- Hanson. (1733 and before).281 

Appendix E: Chronology Table of Disciplinary Actions within the 

Halifax Church Society upon it's Members: 1738-1878... 287 

Appendix F -PASTORAL LEADERSHIP 1733-1904: Biography and 
Roll .. With general listings added to the present day. ..290 

Appendix G- Death and Dying in Colonial Times and the Superstitions 
that persisted 308 

Appendix H Halifax Congregational Church and America's First 

Sunday School 313 


1> General Bibliography for the Text of the History 316 

2> General Additional Sources and Research Archivists 
for additional inquiry 322 

List of niustrations within the text 326 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 6 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 7 


The entire northeastern American continent was covered in a deep 
sheet of ice as the last glacial age progressed, advancing across the 
countryside, scouring mountain and valleys alike and pushing up gigantic 
mounds of debris as it proceeded southwards. The glaciers traveled as far 
south as Long Island, where evidence of that southerly progression 
ended. The glacial sheet's limit continues running eastward along Long 
Island to Nantucket Island. As a result of this scene, the entire states of 
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island were deeply buried in ice, 
extending in thick "lobes" or fingers going on out onto the Continental 
shelf which was dry due to the ocean levels having dropped some 400 feet 
or more.^ ^ A wide isthmus extended out to Georges Bank and 75% of 
the way to southern Nova Scotia."^ Terminal moraines have been located 
some distance out on the now-flooded Continental shelf showing the 
furthest extent of the Huge Larentian Ice Sheet about 25,000 years ago 
with the shoreline to the edge of the Continental Shelf. ^ It is estimated 
the ice at Halifax could have been a mile thick. 

The Glacier's eventual retreat left behind deposited rocks, tons of 
silt and pulverized rock called "till" ^, and in the scoured out basins the 

Recently proof was found that Georges Bank some 100 miles east of Cape Cod was 
above water when the oceans were lower as a Mastodon Tusk was retrieved from this site 
in 2007 by an fisherman. Boston Globe Newspaper, January 6, 2007, Section B, pages 1 
and 6 "A Fish tale with a Prehistoric Bite"- 13,000 year old prehistoric elephant 
(Mastodon) tusk on Georges Bank found." 

See a variety of Maps and diagrams in The Archaeology of New England by Dean R. 
Snow (Academic Press, New York, 1 980) 

The General extent can be seen by roughly drawing a line along the southern edge of 
Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Block Island and Long Island. Dry Land 
extended beyond that many miles. Two "lobes" of ice pressed over the Plymouth area, 
the Buzzard's Bay Lobe, the Cape Cod Lobe, scraping the landscape and carrying rock 
from far away. This ice sheet began to retreat rapidly and by 16,000 BC had retreated 
from Cape Cod, by 14,000 BC the retreat had reached north of Boston (according to 
Hansen in "Geohydrology and Simulated water Flow, Plymouth-Carver Aquifer": USGS 
Water Investigations Report 90-4204, 1992.) and by 13,000 BC the ice had retreated 
from the Gulf of Maine and all of Southern New England. ( United States Geological 
Survey, "Glacial Cape Cod, Geologic History of Cape Cod" by Robert N. Olde; US 
Department of the Interior, USGS , Nov 6, 
2001 ) 

This is material as small as a particle of talc powder and as large as a many-ton boulder. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 8 

melting ice filled with water and drained locally through the Jones River 
Basin and the Taunton river system. This dammed up lake (Glacial 
Lake Taunton) covered a part of ancient pre-historical Halifax. The 
dam found just South of Taunton blocked the outflow of water and it 
covered the entire Basin, the eastern portion of this lake covered a sizable 
portion of southern Halifax and there are mapped 100 foot thick deposits 
of silt and clay, as well as numerous sandy-silty bogs which attest to the 
lakes prior existence. It is likely that the high ground where the Halifax 
Congregational Church stands today and to the south of that, down 
South Street, may have been approaching the shoreline of this Glacial 
"Lake Taunton's" eastern and northern limit. In time Lake Taunton 
filled with sand and silt from the minerals within the Glacial melt-water, 
and drained down to become the current Taunton River basin, creating 
the unique and wonderful cranberry bogs in our area. This lake-bottom 
would be a fertile base for plants, trees and animals to flourish. As the 
water drained into the future bogs and lakes, and the minerals settled or 
were filtered through the bottom, the concentration of valuable minerals 
such as iron grew as a layer in the bottom. The lake was likely no more 
than 50-60 feet deep at it's deepest point ^ (The natives referred to this 
transition from ancient lake-bottom to shore as 'Sveexcadawasoang" *) If 
the tall steeple of the Halifax Congregational Church existed 15,000 
years ago, from it's top windows the view would be extraordinary. 
There would be bare ground with some grass and no trees, and the 
ground nearby would be mostly glacier-packed silt, gravel and rocks. 
("erratics"=rocks carried on /in the glaciers as they advanced and left as 
it melted) Looking to the north would be visible the edge of the mile high 
ice-sheet as it receded. To the south and down the slight incline of terrain 
would be visible a wide and shallow lake, extending almost to the horizon 
and from southeast to southwest. Water from the glacier to the north 
would be flowing into it from various points to the west and it's color 
would be a deep aqua blue. The elevated terrain to the NE would be clear 
of vegetation and would continue beyond Monpossett and Silver Lakes 
towards future Pembroke and Kingston. Occasional grazing animals 
would be visible. 

Some was carried as far as coming from the mountains of NH. ( General Geology of 

Plymouth County , by Jim Turenne; <> , 

^ Ibid - also refer to Map included in the file and reference. The Glacial lake-bottom 

deposits are referred to as " Lacustrine deposits." 

^ Northfield Mountain Interpreter by Claudia F. Sammartino, et al, (Berlin, CT). 108. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 9 

As the general climate warmed the vegetation and wooded 
areas increased in density, the melting glacial ice fields provided plenty of 
water flowing southward. Around 12,000 years ago as Caribou and 
other herbivorous animals entered the region, they were followed by 
those who hunted them. These hunters included the pre-historical natives 
or "Paleo"- natives, who became the first to settle in the region as ancient 
artifacts show.^ 

The Taunton area is rich in Native American History. As the 
hunters forayed north and east from New Jersey into New York and 
Southern New England they followed the herds of animals that migrated. 
The shallow Lake Taunton would be a great place for hunting. I would 
hazard a guess the highlands of Halifax would be a superb place of 
reconnoitering for game near the lake and the future White Island 
settlement may have had nomadic roots going back several thousand 
years into prehistory. It is a theme in some Native groups that the highest 
ground was the preferred place of the clan's sachem or wise leader's 
home. At times the Halifax Congregational Church's promontory may 
have been a valued spot for this native leader's home. Artifacts near the 
Taunton River have been dated as far back as 10,000 BC. ^^ Between 

^ Arrowheads and spearheads date as far back as 7,500 years ago and uses of a throwing stick or "Atl Atl" 
and spears may have been in common use as far back as the glacial period. The Northfield Mountain 
hiterpreter by Claudia F. Sammartino, et al (Northeast Utihties, Berlin, CT., 1981) pages 101, 102, 108. 

As the recedmg ice sheet began to diminish in mass about 15,000 years ago so the resulting entry 
into Southem New England could possible have been between 10,500 and 8,000 BC. Artifacts found in the 
NY region may in fact suggest a later arrival with earlier forays for hunting and exploration. [Sites that are 
dated include : Staten Island ca. 5310-7410 BC with the best estimation at 6,300 BC ± 140 years; 
Poughkeepsie, NY artifacts dated at around 4030 to 4610 BC ± 100 years. By 3,000 BC there was 
continuous occupation of the Southem New England Region by Paleo-native groups. North American 
Indians by the Smithsonian Institution (various authors inclusively): Volume 15 (The Smithsonian 
Institution; The Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1978.)pages 16-27, 166- ff. ) 

'° The Taunton River Study , a subpage of the "Taunton River; wild and scenic Rivers 
Study", , "Archaeologic Finds" . This study 
("Paleo Indian and late Paleo-Indian Period-1 2,000 - 10,000 BP <Before Present> and 
8,000-9,000 BP ) says the incurrence of Indian groups date back likely to around 12,000 
Years ago. They were nomadic and hunted as they needed. They hunted Caribou, elk, 
moose, deer, bear and others. Mammoth teeth have been found offshore (dredged by 
fishermen) as these hunters likely drove them into extinction early on. One site on the 
northern shore of Lake Assawompsett showed evidence of paleo-hunters from around 
9.0(X) years ago. Some 8,000 artifacts were found in Ipswitch dating to around 10,000 
years ago. Ihe liticut settlement along the Taunton River dates from 9-8,000 years ago 
and was in use through 3,700 years ago. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 10 

8,000- 3,000 years ago the hunters began to stay for a time in one place. 
The ocean levels were slowly rising and hunters began to trade complete 
nomadic life for one of staying and settling in a number of places as their 
needs dictated and as the weather warranted. Between 3,000 Years ago 
and 1500 AD these mobile bands settled in more permanent spots and 
likely had several ready settlements to occupy in various places that they 
vacated and occupied from season to season.^ ^ 

In general the tribes who lived along the Northern and mid- 
Atlantic seaboard were all a part of the aboriginal groups connected with 
the Algonquins, a large group further inland and northwards. Some 
sources suggest a conflict split off the group (either by schism or by 
invasion) from other groups and may have existed for several centuries 
as two distinct groups. Lost in antiquity are the discoverers of various 
trails which the tribes used in their various trading networks locally ^^ as 
well as some tribal land demarcation. Some sources suggest that the 
various and varied tribal groups of Southern New England Indians were 
at one time a part of one large general tribe. ^^ Similarities in language 
add credence to the suggestion that these similarities exist and these 
linguistic similarities might be traceable backwards to the larger Proto- 

Additionally an Indian Fort was on the side of the Taunton River near Titicut since before 
the arrival of settlers from Europe. History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts 
by Thomas Weston, A.M. ; Houghton and Mifflin Co., Boston, MA (Riverside Press), 
1906. page 398. (Titicut means "at the Great Tidal River" - Indian Place Names of New 
England compiled by John C. Huden (NY, Museum of the American Indian Heye 
Foundation, 1902) page 251. 

^' From War, Technology and Tactics among New England Indians , Madison Books, 
1991 (as reviewed in the intemet at , , State of Rhode Island, 
Preservation and Heritage Commission) 

-Also refer to Mitchell T. MullhoUand and Kit Carson, in their writings " Prehistory in 
New England " , Department of Anthropology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 
MA; "Timeline from Ice Ages to European Arrival in New England". He Notes the 
general timeframes as 12,000 BP = "Paleo-Indian" - Hunting groups in tundra; 9,000 
BP= "Early- Middle Archaic "- Seasonal Hunter/Gathering groups settling for several 
months; 6,000 BP= "Early Middle Archaic" - Larger base camps and forest hunting as 
well as fishing and shellfish; 3,000 BP= "Woodland" - Semi-permanent villages, 
cultivated food crops, slash and bum agriculture, use of bone tools. 
^^ History of the Indian of Connecticut from the Earliest Known to the Present by John W. 
DeForest,(Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT., 1852) page 11. 

History of the Indians of Connecticut page 1 1 . 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 1 

group (Algonquin ancestors ?) extending from northern Nova Scotia to 
Virginia and do resemble the Algonquin language in Southern Canada. '"^ 
The two main groups prevalent in the Plymouth County area were the 
Narragansetts and the WompanoagsJ^ Primarily the Wampanoags were 
the central group that would deal with the settlers in Plymouth . 

In specific, the subgroup of natives were the Nemaskets , located in 
the vicinity of Middleboro (Nemasket - "Nemah" = fish, "-et"= "a place 
of) where there was a fish weir since prehistory. '^ 

The Pilgrim landing in 1620 was not the first time the natives had 
encountered a European or Asian. The People may have been visited by 
the Vikings (ca. 1000 AD) and possibly the Chinese in 1421^^, and they 

^"^ The Indian in Connecticut by Charles Whipple (Berkshire Traveler Press, Stockbridge, MA, 1972), 
Frontispiece notes and map. 

Also supported by The Connecticut River: New England's Historic Waterway , by Edmund Delaney 
(The Globe Pequot Press, Chester, CT, 1983) Page 9. 

^^ Indian tradition denotes that the people came from the southwest after a tremendous 
flood. They had been staying on what they call "Turtle Island" where they had lived 
since the time of creation. Wampanoag means "eastern people" or " people of the dawn". 
"Wompag" = "bright light" in their language. Each community had authority over a 
certain territory but the land was to use not to "own". The Massachusett and Naragansett 
groups also were on "Turtle Island". < See pictograph image at the end of this section > 
^ Another English Misspelling in some Uterature is "Namasket". In fact a large group of 
native subgroups were known as the Pokonoket Race and this was composed of: 
-Wampanoags- Bristol County, RI 

-Pocassets- Rehobeth, Swansea, Tiverton, Saconet to Little Compton (RI) 
-Nemaskets - Middleboro 
-Agawams - Wareham 

-Manomets - Sandwich 

-Sakatuckets - Mashpee 

-Mattakees - Barnstable 

-Nobquasetts - Yarmouth 

-Monamoys - Chatham 

-Naussets - Eeistham 

History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts by Thomas Weston, A.M. ; 

Houghton and Mifflin Co., Boston, MA (Riverside Press), 1906, Page 1, esp notes 1 

and 2. 

The current theory of Galvin Menzies gives credible evidence of a huge Chinese Junk 
Fleet that sailed throughout the world and may well have landed in Rhode Island and 
visited inland. "I contend that the people Verrazano met at what is now Newport, can 
only have been Chinese men and women, descendants of sailors and concubines from 

Zhou Wen's great fleet I suggest that the first settlers of North America came not 

with Columbas, nor any other Eurpopean pioneer, but in the junks of Admiral Zhou 
Wen's fleet, landing around Christmas, 1421 , and now there is ample DNA evidence to 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 12 


met early European explorers such as Giavanno de Verrazano (1524) , 
and heard of European fishermen farther north since the early sixteenth 
century, but the strange men always went away again without any lasting 
effect on the Wampanoag way of life. It was the unprecedented influx of 
these **coated (cloth-wearing) men** after 1600, and their often violent 
approach to the Native Peoples, that alarmed and dismayed the People. 
Men who went to talk with these uncouth bearded people might be 
attacked and shot at with guns — an unnerving experience in itself since 
it was unclear how the thunderous weapons worked and what power they 
possessed — or seized in a ignominious fashion for no reason and borne 
away in the great boats. The bad men seized children as well, and might 
act towards women as no self-respecting man should. The People were 
cautious but unafraid and often gave these encroachers as good as they 
got, killing some and driving the others away. It is also possible that a 
voyage led by Daniel Gookin in 1599 did not stop but slowly charted the 
landscape of the coast or traded only briefly. *^ 

An increasing number of European visitors arrived on the 
Wampanoag's coast. Bartholomew Gosnold, who visited Capawak 
(Martha's Vineyard - 1602) was given such appropriate items as tobacco 
pipes, deer skins and carefully made cords, but the visit was marred 
when the **Englishmannoq** stole a canoe. Later four Native men found 
cause to attack two trespassing English hunters. In the following season 
(1603), Martin Pring met with the People near Pamet (Truro and 
Provincetown) and more exchanges were made, but the two sides were 

back up this assertion" . 1421, The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies 
(Perennial Press, England 2002) pages 333, 337-9 . 

*^ The explorer wrote later on to the French King " (On entering the Bay) we founde 
about 20 small boates of the people which with divers cries and wonderings came about 
our shippe, coming no nearer than 50 paces towards us. . . . then they made a loud shovs^e 
all together declaring that they rejoiced when we had something . . .This is the goodliest 
people and of I the fairest condition wee have found in this our voyage. They exceed us 
in bigness, they I are of colour of brasse, some of them encline more to a colour of 
whiteness; others of a yellowe colour of comely visage and long black hair. . . . there 
are plaines 25 to 30 leagues broad, open without any impediment of trees and such 
fruitfulness . . .We entered into the woods which wee found so great and thicke that any 
army, were it never so great might have hid itself therein. We saw their houses made in 

circular or rounde form, 1 to 12 foote in compasse " Naragansett Bay: A Friend' s 

Perspective by Stuart O Hale, 1998 (Sea Grant: Indians and Colonists : and colonists.html ) 
^^ One passenger aboard that vessel was a William Wadsworth, an ancestor of the author. 
Rev. Wadsworth. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 3 

unsure of each other and the English soon left. Prig also made inroads up 
the Jones River into Kingston and beyond reaching it's headwaters. 
Men of another European nation, France, arrived with Samuel de 
Champlain. Champlain actually entered Patuxet ("at the little falls," 
1605, later Plymouth) harbor where he saw many houses and cornfields. 
The theft of a kettle at Nauset led to confrontation and the death of a 
French sailor. The Native inhabitants regretted this unfortunate 
occurrence and made conciliatory gestures such as bartering their bows 
and arrows to express their regrets. A second voyage by Champlain the 
following year resulted in another fatal struggle at Monomoyick 
(Chatham, 1606). 

A few years later (1611) another English ship under the command 
of Captain Edward Harlow came to Cape Cod and kidnapped several 
Wampanoag men, including Epenow, a Capawack sachem. Epenow was 
able to exploit the English greed for gold in order to return to Capawack 
as a guide (in 1614). He was then able to escape back to his people. In that 
same year, the English explorer Captain John Smith arrived to map the 
coast of what is now called New England, trade for furs and establishing 
fishing operations. Unfortunately, his lieutenant, Thomas Hunt, 
kidnapped 27 Wampanoag men after Smith had returned to England 
and sold them as slaves in Malaga, Spain. One of these was the Patuxet 
band member Tisquantum (Squanto) who escaped to England before 
returning to America and fame as the savior of the Pilgrims. The loss of 
these twenty Patuxet and seven Nauset men was strongly felt in the 
Wampanoag communities. When a French vessel was wrecked on Cape 
Cod in 1616, the surviving crewmen were seized by the People and 
presented to various allied communities as to act as servants as was the 
People custom for prisoners of war. 

A far worse disaster struck the Native Peoples in 1618. An 
epidemic (or "plague" — ^the specific disease is unknown^^) brought by the 
Europeans swept across the lands of the Massachuset and the 
Wampanoag, destroying whole communities, and reducing those 
surviving to ten to thirty per cent of the original population. ^^ Patuxet 

Martin Prig in his 1603 visit described the Jones River as "winding like the shell of a 
snail." Major Bradford's Town: A history of Kingston, MA : 1726-1976 (Kingston, 
Town of Kingston, 1976) page 6. 

It is likely this was some form of smallpox. Noted as a Plague by Samoset from 
Patuxet (RI) who knew English and remembered he was the only living survivor when he 
revisited later. History of Plymouth County ,by H. H. Hurd, 1 889, page 80. 

"John Thomas, an Indian projected to be over 1 00 years old and before his death in 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 14 

(Plymouth), which had once had a population of 2,000 people, was found 
abandoned by Tisquantum when he arrived as a guide for Thomas 
Dermer in the spring of 1619. This epidemic spread across New England 
and had similar impacts elsewhere. It is thought that between two and 
seven thousand natives lived in the Connecticut region around the year 
1630 a mere fraction of the people before the disease struck.^^ This 
wholesale destruction so weakened the Wampanoag that their leading 
sachem, Massasoit, was forced to submit to the Narragansett sachem 
Canonicus. In 1619 New England was also visited by Sir Ferdinand 
Gorges who landed to explore and visited the area of the future 
Middleboro. ^^ 

Thomas Dermer returned to Wampanoag Country in the summer 
of 1620 with Tisquantum and an Abenaki sachem from Pemaquid 
(Maine) named Samoset. Dermer worked for the same Sir Ferdinando 
Gorges who had kept Epenow of Capawack a prisoner until 1614. This 
continuous difficulty and challenge to the natives would eventually 
percolate towards the confrontation of King Phillips War in the latter 

1730, remembered his father while he was still young (ca early 1600's) left Boston when 
a great sickness had wiped out most of his people. ... in both Dorchester and in Boston 
the dead were so many that they were never buried .'' King Phillips War: The History & 
Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict by Cris Schultz and MilUcent J. Torgas 
(Covmgton Press, Woodstock, VT, 1999) page 104 
^^ Ellington , page 3. 

Notes that the "decimation of the Natives was quite severe and rapid" is found regionally: The 
Nipmucks may have numbered 500 or so as notations of the deaths of many due to early disease 

epidemics took their toll in the region." 1639-450 of 1,000 Indians at 'fort up above the River Conigtecut' 
died of epidemic". Of the Podunk, numbered about 300 in 1633 as "hidians near Hartford". Handbook of 
North American Indians , page 166ff. 

'^^ Sir Fernando Gorges sent an expedition to look after a certain fishing and fur interest, 
noted by Cpt. John Smith in 1617. Cpt. Thomas Dermer was leader of the expedition.... 
He explored the country in a small band jfrom Kennebec (ME) to Cape Cod (MA) . "I 
traveled westward to a place called Namasket, where finding inhabitants, ... "He also 
rescued two Frenchmen wrecked several years before and subjugated to severe slavery. A 
Third had married. One of the survivors was found in Namasket." Ibid, History of 
Middleboro , Page 21 . Generally these societies were male-driven and women were 
basically laborers. (Ibid page 2) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


* V 

A Native Village from around 1600. 

From "Prehistory in New England" by Mulholland and Curran 


From the Mass. Archaeology Society Collection, 
Middlcborough, MA 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 16 


I. Prior to the Landing in Plymouth: 

To better understand the context of the formation and existence of 
the Halifax Congregational Church, it is prudent for us to have an 
understanding of the tempestuous and deeply passionate forces that 
form the context, history and backdrop of our religious envisioning, 
especially at the early formative period of Protestantism. The 
Protestant Reformation, more particularly the English Reformation, 
carries within it our heritage directly. During the years prior to the 
European settlements in the Americas the entire European continent 
was embroiled in bitterly contended revisions of their systems of faith, 
worship format and content, iconical values, and even religious house 
architecture. All of these were global in scope both for the individual 
person of faith as well as for congregations, countries and kingdoms. 
The Protestant Reformation was that tide of revision and religious 
recasting that divided faithful people as it sought to revitalize and recast 
the expressed belief in Christ. Our church family in Halifax owes it's 
existence to the passion of those involved in this struggle and our 
historical weavings today in this study must incorporate that core facet 
as one of our tap roots. 

In order to get a feel for the motivations and faith of the Colonial 
Pioneers, referring to the Separatists, Puritans, Pilgrims and so forth; 
their heritage, meaning our heritage, needs outlining for their struggle 
actually extends back to the Late Middle Ages. ^^ Separate and subtle 
movements to reform the Roman Church were surfacing in many areas 
of Europe, some opposing the Church policies, clergy activities or 
corporate ecclesiastical wealth, and some wishing a change in the 
availability of Scripture into local languages rather than austere Latin. 
Some felt faith was an independent and personal affair, as was church 
governance and organization. ^^ One early challenge was as early as the 
1350' s when John Wycliffe translated Scriptures into <Middle> 

^^ The Puritan in England and New England by Ezra Hoyt Byington, DD, (University 
Press, Roberts Bro., Boston, MA, 1 896) Pages 6 ff. 

^^ An excellent treatise of this resistance in the early Reformation is found in The 
Anabaptists of the 16^^ Century by Ernest A Payne, (The Carey Kingsgate Press, Ltd, 
Oxford, England, 1940) pp l-21ff. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 7 

English.^^ He was burned at the stake and traditions have it that the 
executioners used confiscated copies of his translated Bible as fuel for 
the flames. 

The rising of the Reformation in Germany and it's rapid spread 
to Switzerland and throughout Europe gave light to a new mode of 
faith. ^^ Tyndale (in England) using Wycliffe and other translations 
created a New Testament in 1525. Rome's response was muted by the 
separation of England and of King Henry VIII declaring himself as 
Head of State and the Church. A decade later, Coverdale also produced 
a Bible in 1535 and Bible scholarship was expanding into the realm of 
the people.^^ The separation of Rome and England gave strength to the 
various Reforms that came about in England. The Congregational 
roots are deeply found in this context. ^^ 

The Northern portion of England was different than those who 
lived in the vicinity of London. The Reformation was being discussed in 
Oxford and Cambridge Universities and other places, and lectures by 
great minds such as John Knox and Erasmus kept the reflections going. 
As the Reformation on the Continent was "religious", the English 
Reformation was both religious and political. ^* The translations of 
Coverdale and Tyndale were widely circulated in Scotland, as England 
bounced officially between following Rome or not, depending on who 
was ruler of the realm. Global edicts tried to homogenize the faith and 
worship causing growing tension as the consequences became more dire. 

"^ Wycliffe fortunately was well protected by the powerful Lord, John of Gaunt. 
Wycliffe said "It is the right of every man to read the Scriptures in his own tongue." 
Wycliffe also advocated for a simpler form of worship. See The Living Theological 
Heritage of the United Church of Christ by Barbara Brown Zikmund, Volume 1 "Ancient 
and medieval Legacies", Part 70 "On the Eucharist" by John WycUffe- 1380 ( Pilgrim 
Press, Cleveland, OH, 1995) pages 488-495. 

Also: The European Reformations Sourcebook , Carter Lindberg, editor, (Blackwell 
Publishers, 2000, pages 15-18. 

^^ Some kingdoms employed "ministers" to assist them in this new faith and royal courts 
became a kingdom-by-kingdom battle between the reformers and Rome. John Henkle an 
ancestor of author Rev. Wadsworth was a court advisor to Queen Mary of Hungary in the 
1 5 1 5-20 period until the kingdom was overrun by the Turks in the Battle of Mohacs in 

IBID, The Puritan in England and New England , page 8-9. 
"'^ Ibid, The Living Heritage of the UCC , Vol. 2 " ...the Congregational and Christian 
portion of the United Church of Christ History is deeply grounded in the English 
Reformation. Congregationalism is linked to the Puritan protest within the English 
Reformation, ..." Page 25 

The Puritan in Englzmd and New England, page 1 1 . 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 8 

^^ ^^The Puritans (wanted to purify the church of it's "misconceptions") 
could not conform with all the specifics laid out and the English who 
returned from the European Continent, regaled the of worship being 
extolled there and practiced in some places. The church of England had 
too much semblance to Rome in their view. ^"^ ^^ The term "Puritan" was 
used descriptively starting in the 1550's. (derogatory) Numerous 
attempts at reform failed and the sides polarized further with some 
desiring to be completely separate from the polity. Control and laws of 
the English church fed the schism. The Separatists began their quest 
quietly as a portion of the Puritans. Robert Browne, a pioneer 
Separatist and defmer of congregational ideals, viewed the church as : 
1> covenanted community, a number or company of believers 
between which be a willing covenant made with their God who 
are under the government of God and Christ. Christ was the only 
head of the church. ( no Bishops) 

^^ Key to this were the "Acts of Supremacy" and "Act of Uniformity" under Queen 
Elizabeth. The former asserts that she was the sole governor of the realm "temporal and 
spiritual", and the latter demanded the use of the Book of Common Prayer to be used in 
all religious services. Refusal would mean prison, fines, censure. ( to life long period), 
later on death could be the sentence for infraction, . 

^^ See A History of England by Charles Oman (Henry Hoh and Company, NY, 1900) , 
esp. pages 282-361. 

^^ Issues such as kneeling at the altar to receive the elements of Communion, Use of the 
"sign of the Cross", use of clerical vestments, etc., were brought to the fore. The Puritan 
in England and New England, p age 14-15. Scottish "Presbyterianism" agreed with some 
of these ideals and spread southwards into England even in the midst of persecution. 
Some even felt a more "congregational" power structure and faith stance was warranted. 
All of these brought forth the ire of the established church. Some felt John Knox's book 
of Prayers more usefiil than the Book of Common Prayer. See also , The Living Heritage 
of the UCC , Vol 2, page 27 See also. Creeds of Christendom by Phillip Schaff, Volume 
III "The Evangelical Protestant Creeds" (Baker Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1985) - The 
Scottish Confession of Faith (ca. 1560), pages 437-485. 

^^ The influx of a huge number of Calvinistic exiles from Germany and Switzerland 
added to the Puritan's pattem of belief. Some non-conforming clergy (and 
congregations) went underground to escape the legalized prosecutions. The Presbyterian 
Church of Scotland was theologically an outflow of the Reformed Church of Geneva 
(Calvin's stronghold area) and of the work of John Knox, previously mentioned. 
( History of the Christian Church by Phillip Schaff, Volume VII "Modem Christianity: 
The Swiss Reformation" (William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1910) pages 809-819. 
-Also History of American Congregationalism by Gains Atkins and Frederick L. Fagley 
(Pilgrim Press, Boston, 1942) Pages 28ff. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 19 

2> The relationship between pastors, elders and people must be one 
of mutual consent and responsibility. The officers are the 

3> The church is a committed community totally separate from the 
world. ^^^^ 

The divisions were further widening as clergy and congregations 
held services in other places such as homes and public halls, centering 
on hearing the Bible and sermons by the ministers. ^^ In a letter from 
the Spanish Ambassador to King Phillip shared a view of these 

3^ The Living Heritage of the UCC , Vol 2, page 29-30. "While moderate and radical 
Puritans like Cartwright, Field and Wilcox leveled their criticism at the established 
church, most Puritans thought that biblical reform of the church in worship, government, 
and discipline was possible. They continued to agitate while waiting for the full reform 
to take place. Also, Roland Sainton says" This group (Congregationalists, Anabaptists, 
etc) began at the point of composition of the church which should consist of heartfelt 
believers and for that reason can never comprise the entire population of the district, 
Consequently, the church should NOT be united with the state." The Reformation of the 
Sixteenth Century ( Beacon Press, Boston, 1956) page 78. 

A small minority of zealous Puritans, however, were not content to tarry for the 
magistrate. . . . They insisted that true Christians needed to separate from a corrupt 

The first notable argimient, as mentioned earlier, for a Separatist form of 
Congregationalism was made by a radical thinker named Robert Browne. ... By 1 58 1 , he 
had given up Presbyterian views to make the case for Separatist Congregationalism. . . 
He organized a congregation in Norwich. One of the better documents is the "Treatise of 
Reformation without tarrying for Anie" (1582) by Browne, additionally Principles and 
Foundations of Christian Religion (Henry Jacob- 1604/5), Diary of Lady Maragret Hoby 
(1599), etc. ( The Living Heritage of the UCC , Vol 2. page 461 - 520. and 619-635.) 

^^ Renewed persecutions of Brown and his church by The Archbishop of Canterbury, 
John Whitgift, only heightened the view of being separate. Arrests, imprisonment grew 
in both severity and in number as clergy and laity were taken. In 1564 the Dean of the 
Church of Oxford was imprisoned since he refused to wear "vestments". 98 London 
clergy were confronted and 37 were stripped of status for not using the "Prayer Book". 
One of those clergy by the way was William Coverdale, Bible Translator. The Puritan in 
England and New England, page 1 7, and 2 1 -22^ 
lAlso History of American Congregationalism, p ages 32-36 

In 1 567 a whole congregation was arrested by a "sheriffe" charged with "worshipping 
God under formes not prescribed by law," Many were sent to prison . History of the 
Puritans . (4 Volumes) by S. D. Neal, 1732 Volume I , page 186 <Copy found in the New 
England genealogical and Historical Society in Boston.> Also for more on this and 
other arrests of early Separatists see Puritan in England, Holland and America , by 
Douglas Campbell (Cloverleaf missing), 1892, pages 400-447. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 20 

"radical" folk. He says, "They are styled 'Puritans' because they allow 
no ceremonies nor any form save that are authorized by the bare letter 
of the Gospel." ^^ The reader will find numerous parallels within the 
early creeds and statements of faith of the Halifax Congregational 
Church as they were drawn from this era of foment. 

The suppression increased over the next 20 years. The Separatists 
had two distinct camps the "Separatists" and the "non-conformists"."^^ 
Note as well that the Reformation on the Continent was faltering a bit 
and tens of thousands of protestant voices were being silenced as well as 
in England."^^ The rejection of the Separatists by Scottish-born King 
James solidified the fact that the Separatist movement would not be 
accepted and the polarization became terminal. The Puritans and the 
Separatists eventually became the English defenders of constitutional 
liberty as well as in church and faith. <we do strike a parallel here with 
Colonial America 200 years hence> '^^ From this swell of focused 
prejudice and potential imprisonment the religious Separatists began to 
fully understand that they would need to leave their homeland and 
travel elsewhere, potentially across the Atlantic to the New World. 

From the Puritan-strong, Separatist-strong Northern England 
(south of the Scottish Border) whose vivacity of faith was empowered by 
several strong preachers in the very early 1600's and who traveled 
about among the people to entice them to reform their lives. One group 
was at Gainesborough-On-Trent (Under Rev. John Smith) who left for 
Amsterdam, Holland, in 1606, and another group was at Scrooby (met 
in a "manner house"'^^ chapel under Mr. William Brewster) and under 

^^ The Puritan in England and New England, p age 18. 

"^^ In 1583 a High Court sought to forbid assembly of neighbors, to read the Bible, and 
clergy who had not been sanctioned by the Church of England could not practice 
(required an vow of adherence) . Ibid, page 19. 

"^^ For the Catholic Rebuttals and Attemps at reconciliation refer to The History of the 
Popes, their Church and State, and Especially of their Confleicts with Protestantism in 
the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries by Leopold Ranke , E. Foster, Trans., Volumes 
I and II (Henry G. Bohn, London, 1847) . 
^^ Ibid, Pages 43-45. 

For a full overview of the Confrontation of King James in Hampton Court and events 
leading up to it see - King James and the Confrontation at Hampton Court 
- Conformity Enforced in 

http://www.saill620.orq/discover feature tlie pilgrims leiden and the earlv years 
of Plymouth plantation chapter 1 page Z.shtml taken from 

The "farm house which Brewster occupied belonged-perhaps still does- to the 
Archbishop of York. Scrooby was a village on the Border of Nottinghamshire. The 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 21 

Mr. Richard Clipton and Mr. John Robinson (Robinson had taught in 
Norwich) who went as well to Holland in 1607/8 ^'^ After escaping to 
Layden, Holland, for a time the Scrooby church fellowship wanted to go 
to America. Indeed the arrival of the Mayflower was but a whisper of 
the Puritan and Separatist multitudes that would follow in the two 
decades after the initial landing. ^^ Future endeavors to "escape" to the 
colonies would be prevented when possible. This did little to stem the 
tide wanting to escape the social, political, judicial and religious 
pressures to remain. One account from 1629 gives a window into this 
censorship after the Mayflower and Fortune had landed in Plymouth. 
"An unfortunate Separatist - one 'Mr. Ralph Smith, a minister' had 
desired passage in one of the Company's ships, hoping perhaps, to 
escape, by fleeing into New England, the penalties from which the 
Pilgrims fled into Holland, and which the laws of England provided 
against such crimes as they were guilty of. His desire ' was granted 
him' . Said the Company, 'before we understood of his differences in 
judgment in some things from our ministers' , What could they do? 
The permission might have been revoked; but alas ! His goods were 
already shipboard before they knew what he was'...."*^ 

Manor House "of the Bishop" was in constant use since the time of William the 
Conqueror by the Archbishop of York. History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts with 
Illustrations, with Biographical Sketches by D, Hamilton Hurd (J. W. Lewis and Co., 
1884) page 64 (a-d). 

Bradford's History of Plymouth, Massachusetts (Mass Historical Society, 1856) copy 
at the New England Genealogical and Historical Society , (also noted in The Puritan in 
England and New England, page 56, and History of Plymouth County by Hurd, page 65.) 

"The evidence is conclusive that our forefathers came to New England not as 
adventurers but as the friends of liberty and of the Protestant Religion; to found a state in 
which they could work out the principles for which they had been contending, and which 
they had come to believe could not be developed in the old world." 

" Iliey had a great dread of popery, and they believed the Church of England was 
relapsing into the superstitions of Romanism." Ibid, page 83-84. 
' The (jenesis of New England Churches by Leonard Bacon (Harper and Brothers, NY, 
1874) page 463. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 22 

II. AFTER THE LANDING: Establishing of Colonial 
Religion and Early Inroads westerly into the 
Plymouth County Interior. 

Our church Heritage in Halifax is directly tied socially, 
historically, religiously and genealogically to the establishment of a 
settlement in Plymouth in 1620 '^^. The arrival of the Europeans to the 
area was important. The natives more than likely saw them as another 
"tribe" who seemed to be quite powerful and would likely be someone 
important to entreat as an ally in the event of war with neighboring 
groups.^^ Since the disease had wiped out so many Native Americans 
in the 3 years prior to the Mayflower's arrival, in fact since entire 
villages were wiped out, the small remainder may be seeking allies to 
fend off other conquering groups not hampered as badly. The 
beleaguered Pilgrims sailing to "the Northern part of Virginia'*^" had 


"^^ Plymouth as a name- derives from the name suggested by Prince Charles, shortly King 
Charles I, on return to England in 1614 of John Smith, with a map " History of Plymouth 
County , page 1 . 
The agreement drawn up between Governor John Carver of Plimoth and Massasoit of the Wampanoag 
tribe m the early 1600's, Note the use of "tribe" in this compact. 

" 1 . That neyther he nor any of his tribe should injure or doe 
hurt to any of our people. 

2. And if any of his did hurt to any of ours, he should send 
the offender, that we might punish him. 

3. thatifanyofourtooles were taken away when our people 
were at worke, he should cause them to be returned, and if 
ours did harme to any of his, we would doe like to them. 

4. If any did unjustly warre against him, we would ayde him, 
if any did warre against us, he ^ould ayde us." 

Hidden Histories in the United Church of Christ by Barbara Brown Zikmund, editor (United Church 
Press, 1984), page 4. 

"^^ According to their Patent procured by John Pierce. Their target area for the Mayflower's expedition 
was in the vicinity of Manhattan but their landing was actually outside the realm of the map. They were 
likely to connect with the Dutch who were already in the area. < The Mayflower did head around Cape 
Cod mitially and was forced back into Plymouth Bay by the weather, or they would have continued to 
New York (New Amsterdam) - Early American Winters: 1604-1820 by David Ludlum (AMS, Boston, 
MA, 1 906) page 7-9 > . The earliest Dutch sailing up the Connecticut River was on the "Onrust" in 1614. The 
Dutch did make overtures inviting the English Pilgrim settlers to form a joint commercial venture in 1627 to take 
advantage of the entire Connecticut River Valley's resources but they failed to come to any agreement. Between 
1614 and 1624 a tremendous number of beaver pelts and other skins were collected. One year the collection totaled 
around 10,000 skins of beaver alone. Uniquely the Dutch traveled by water, sailing to their destinations and creating 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 23 

their problems. 102 people sailed and initially one sister ship was 
found un-seaworthy making them return, and consolidate everyone 
into the Mayflower. These Separatists/ Congregationalists had one die 
on the way over, and three die while stopping on Cape Cod . ^^ Many 

trading places. C^tain Adrian Block in 1614 probably followed older information fix)m Henry Hudson 

(1609 +) and was the first to sail up between the "delightfiil banks" of the river wanting to establish places 

of trading with the natives. Block continued on to a small island after leaving the river which bears his 

name today; Block Island. The "Onrust" means "restless" was constructed with help fi-om the natives 

(Manhattan tribe) and launched in the Spring of 1614 on Manhattan Island. The Connecticut River Valley , 

page 19 ff. Block's original ship was the "Tiger" which had bumed. As we Were on the Valley Shore (A 

Bicentennial History) by James W. Miller, editor,(Shore Line times Company, Guilford, CT., 1976), p 101. 

For a map that reflects tiie explorations and impressions Henry Block refers to in his explanation see in As 

We Were , page 4.See also Valley of Discord Church and Society along the Connecticut River. 1636-1725 , 

by Paul R. Lucas (Univ. Press of N. England, Hanover, N.H., 1976), page 3. 

TTie actual procurement of the "patent" was a stormy affair as well: Chronology as follows. . . 

-Sept, 1617- John Carter and Robert Cushman sent to England (from Leyden) to get a charter from the King 

and a patent fi-om the Virginia Company. <Refiised by the King on religious grounds> 

-A patent was laid out openly covering all lands between the 38* and 45* parallel. (SE Maryland to British 

Provinces) given to he first group who would populate it. 

-Nov, 1617- Carter and Cushman returned from England again with a letter from Sir Edwin Sandys dated 

Nov 1 2* to affirm their wish to have that patent. 

-These negotiations continued for another 2 years ! 

-June 1619- Patent was issued !! 

-June 1 0, 1 620- Carter and Cushman were sent to England to arrange for the voyage to America 

-July 21 , 1620- Left Leydon on the "Speedwell" to join up with the "Mayflower" 

-August 5, 1620- Mayflower and Speedwell depart Southhampton with 120 passengers total plus freight. 

-August 13, 1620- Mayflower and Speedwell return as the Speedwell is leaking. 

-August 21,1 620- Mayflower and Speedwell set out again and return immediately- The Speedwell was 

found un-seaworthy; 18 passengers would not continue, including Robert Cushman. 

-September 6, 1620- Mayflower sailed with 102 passengers, packed solid. 

-November 11,1 620- Arrived at Cape Cod (future Provincetown) 

-June 1 , 1 62 1 - Robert Cushman arrived in the "Fortune" with a new Patent fix)m the North Virginia 

Company. History of Plymouth County , pages 65-71, 82 

^ In the account of the local Halifax Historian's handwritten manuscript, Ignatius 
Thompson recounts a trip on Cape Cod c 1 848 "After resting a day or two, he 
accompanied me to Provincetown. On our way within a mile of the lighthouse, he 
pointed me the place where the two first white persons were buried. It was two or 
three rods on the left side of the road. He informed me that they were among the 
first adventurers to this country, and died at sea: that the people came into the 
harbor below and brought them up and buried them in that place, after which they 
went up the Bay to Plymouth. This he stated as a tradition handed down to them. I 
repressed my surprise, that among the number of those who were fond of 
perpetuating memorable events, no one had been disposed to erect a memorial. A 
few years more, when another generation has occasion, the place cannot be 
recognized." <Manuscript original held in the Church Archives of the Halifax Cong. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 24 

more would further die during the first frigid winter in Plymouth. 
The strength of the faith of the settlers offset their difficulties as on 
November 21, 1620, the company signed the Mayflower Compact, 
which initially eschewed congregational polity and faith values. ^' It is 
also important to note that the Puritans (those "non-conformists" who 
wished to continue the Reforming of the Church of England, but not 
to cast off it's polity ) would begin a settlement in Salem ("Land's 
End") in 1628/9. ^^ The future colonies would subtly vie for their way 
of faith and society as the settlements grew. ^^ 

The form of worship on the Sabbath Day was extensive. 
Labor stopped at 3:00 PM on Saturday and from 3 PM until 
sundown children and families studied their "catechisms". On 
Sunday at 9:00 AM worship commenced, summoned by a drumbeat. 
Town Crier, conch shell or horn, (wealthy churches would have a 
bell) Deacons would sit on a low platform facing the Congregation 
and the Elders would be on the opposite side on a slightly higher 
platform. Tythingmen roamed the aisles keeping order and taking 

Church. Transcribed separately by Ruth Perkins and Rev. Wadsworth.> 

^' Plymouth Colony, page 411-413. 

^^ The Puritan in England and New England , pages 84 and 86, 151-159, and Plymouth 

Colony , pages 27ff 

^^ The two colonies: Boston and Plymouth although cartographically close to one 

another had differences as well: 

PLYMOUTH (1620)- Separatists SALEM (1628)- Puritans 

- Democratic : civic choices and laws -Would continue worship as in Old 

-Church - "Congregational" motif England with disciplines 

- Separatists and exiles (Book of Common Prayer) and as 

- Not use Book of Common Prayer supporters of Protestant Reformation 
-Prayer - They were a people of simple (See Note A below in this reference) 

faith ready to suffer the loss of all - Country Gentlemen, with 

things for conscience's sake. Comfortable means of life 

-equality for all individuals. -Class distinctions continued 

-Wanted to transfer a part of Old 
England To the New World . 
The Puritan in England and New England , pages 86, 88, 89-91, 92, 98 
Note A- Mr. Higginson leaving for Salem in 1630 said to a fellow passenger, " As 
England dropped from sight, we will not say as the Separatists were wont to say 
'Farewell, Babylon, Farewell Rome'; but we will say 'Farewell Dear England, Farewell, 
the Church of God in England' . ... we go to practice the positive part of the Church 
reformation, and to propagate the Gospel in America." Genesis of the New England 
Church by Dr. Leonard Bacon, 1 874 , page 467. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 25 

attendance to see who was missing. The settlers were grateful to be 
in their new land as noted by George Sandys in his 1636 re-rendering 
of Psalm 46: "Z<?r</, as silver purified. Thou hast with affliction tried; 
Thou hast driven Into the net, Burdens on our shoulders set Trod on 
by their horses hooves " Theirs whose pity never moves — We through 
fire, with flames embraced. We through raging floods have passed. 
Yet by thy conducting Hand; brought Into a wealthy land^\ ^ 

The Order of Worship and Events is as follows: 

1> Petitions for Prayer offered by the Congregation to be 

included in the Pastor's Prayer. 
2> Pastoral Prayer - duration 15 Min or longer. 
3> Chapter of the Bible is read aloud and is reflected on by a 

"teacher" (<may also be ordained or not>)- Duration is 

around 1 to 1.5 Hours. 
4> Psalm is sung (chosen by ruling elder) may be read by the 

ruling Elder then sung in response by the congregation. No 

Instruments used. 
5> SERMON- usually times with an hour glass on the pulpit, 

turned over at the start. Most targeted one turn of the 

glass... sometimes it was turned 2-3 times ! Most sermons 

in early years were not written. 
6> Prayer- shorter than above. 
7> Psalm is sung/ chanted by the congregation 
8> Baptism (if warranted) - 7 days after birth 
9> Communion (monthly) - Minister and officers are seated at 

the Table and the elements are consecrated, then handed to 

those at the Table, then passed to the Deacons, then to the 

congregation in their seats. Prayers and Psalms were offerd 

as this was happening. 
10> Psalm Sung/ read 
1 1> Benediction offered 


Congregation exits to enjoy a lunch either in the cemetery or local 
meadow and expected to return at 2:00 PM for the Afternoon 


Afternoon Service is as follows: 


Congregationalism of the Last 300 Years by Henry Martyn Dexter (NY, Harper 

Brothers PubHshers, 1 880) page 410. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 26 

1> Prayer as offered in the AM service. 

2> Psalm is sung/ chanted/ read 

3> Morning service- Minister spoke on the reading from the 

morning reading and then sermonized again in the PM. 

Timeframe is similar. 
4> Psalm is shared and chanted 
5> Offering is taken: Offering is brought openly to the Deacon's 

Bench to put into the collection box. Besides money, other 

items were brought. The offering was usually by class standing 

with prominent folks going first. 
6> Membership admission (if needed) 
7> Hearing of matters of offense and church discipline 
8> Psalm is shared/ sung 

9> Prayer of dismissal and blessing followed by a Benediction. 

There was a Mid-week Lecture that people were also expected to 
attend. ^^ New Englanders called their multipurpose places of worship 
'^meetinghouses". The eventual buildings would have a similarity to 
their architecture. The building would be spacious enough to 
accommodate the people and plain enough to guard against 
ecclesiastical pomp and the '^traditional forms of worship"(eg. England 
and Rome) It's form, before porches and steeple was added, was a 
perfectly plain structure, almost square without chimney or anything to 
mark it as a place of worship. It had doors on three sides with two, 
sometimes three rows of windows. The principle (Great) door was 
placed in the middle of the long side, the pulpit being opposite that in 
the middle of the opposing side. The side doors were placed in the 
middle of the ends. Galleries were built on three sides. The pulpit was 
elevated and was under a sounding board (acoustic amplification). 

The people were seated on rough benches, men and women on 
separate sides. Pews were usually authorized by the town to be built at 
the expense of the family. These pews were deeded as real estate and 
sometimes inherited as such. Lighting was by sunlight only. Notably 
night meetings were considered "improper". ^^ 

^^ The Puritan in England and New England , pages 150-154 

^^ Ibid, pages 139-146 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 27 

Once the Plymouth colony was offloaded and began to be 
established, forays into the interior west of Plymouth began but not 
immediately. They had the winter of 1620-1 to contend with. " The 
earliest forays seemed to mainly be along the coast to the South of 
Plymouth, with some trading connection with the Dutch. ^^ Six months 
after settlement in July 13, 1621, "Samuel Hopkins and David Winslow 
were chosen to go to meet Massasoit, King of the region, and after a 
days walk (west) spent the night at "Namasket" , a town under 
"Massasoyt". ^^ Shortly after, in August, 1621, Miles Standish went with 
military force to settle differences between the Naragansetts and 
Nemaskets and it was also held at Nemasket (Middleboro). Here he got 
a first look at the terrain he would soon invest in within a Patent. ^° 
The negotiations were mildly successful as revealed in a cautionary tone 
in a letter written in 1624. ^' Further contact in the winter of 1621 with 
Wamsutta (son of Massasoit) sachem of the Wampanoags (who had a 
wife named Weetamantoo". ^^The colony had lost substantial lives in the 
first winter. 49 settlers and about half of the crew of the Mayflower 
died.^^ The combination of the disease among the natives, the death of a 
significant number of the Plymouth settlers and their need to set up a 
means of food and shelter curtailed most interior exploration for a few 
years. This would change shortly. By 1624 the colony had grown to 180 

^^ The winter of 1621 was very cold, icy and snowy which even prevented offloading the 

ship for a time as well as travel on the Bay. Cold rain followed by ice and snow were 

common especially in January," Early American Winters 1604-1820 by David Ludlum 

(AMS, Boston, MA, 1906) p7ff. -Letter from John White written to a friend in England 

10 years after arrival in 1630, 'there was at the time of the arriv£il of the colonists a foot 

of snow on the ground." History of Plymouth County , page 77 

^^ IBID, page 82. Also refer to footnote No. 42 

^^ History of the Town of Middleboro, Mass ., by Thomas Weston, AM, (Houghton and 

Mifflin Co., Boston <Riverside Press>, 1906, page 22. 

^^ History of Plymouth County , "History of Middleboro", page 942, 945 

Letter from Robert Cushman to John Robinson (in Holland) in 1624. He referenced 
the summary punishment inflicted by Standish on Peckenot and other natives. . . . 
Concerning the killing of these poor Indians, of which was heard at first by report and 
since my more certain relation; "Oh how happy a thing had it been if you had converted 
some before you had killed any; beside whose blood has once begun to be shed, it is 
seldom staunched of a long time after". History of Plymouth County , page 88 
^^ Middlebury, 1669: Halifax, 1734 by Harry S. Brown compiler. Original unpublished 
manuscript at Holmes Library, Halifax, MA. Furthermore, this group of Natives had a 
settlement on White's Island in Monposett Pond . 
^^ Ibid page 81. Tally taken on April 5, 1621. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 28 

people and had 32 cabins. ^ BY the year 1629, the health of the small 
settlement had returned, partially due to the teachings of the local 
natives, and partly due to their own efforts to survive. This was the 
year that the area was to change greatly. The large Higginson Fleet 
(perhaps 1,000 people) reached Salem and in 1630 the mammoth 
Winthrop Fleet brought several Thousands in numerous ships to 
Boston. ^^ These were Puritans. In time the two colonies would meld 
slightly in polity and faith. ^^ This would format the polity and format of 
the Halifax Church 100 years hence. 

In 1633 the ordering of life as a community took on a more 
decisive tone. This was the year of the recording of laws in Plymouth. ^^ 
The structure of the church and legal systems were coming into place. ^^ 
The return of those who wiped out the Pequots in 1637 successfully 
allowed the interior lands to be explored, mapped and settled. There 
was a general tendency to making inroads into the interior. ^^ This 
opportunity was advantaged by the use of existing native paths which 
were usable for foot travel only. ^^ In 1640 the first Land Grants were 

^ The Puritan in England and New England , page 101. Also of note was the 1623 arrival 

of the first cattle " Bull and 3 heiffers" in 1623. History of Plymouth , page 87. 

^^ Plymouth Colony, Its History and People , page 39. 

^^ This was not always harmonious. Plymouth folk were interested in settling up trading 

in Connecticut in the early 1630's and began to do so but the Folk in Dorchester were 

also interested. The Massachusetts Bay Colony terminated the trading post of the 

Plymouth Colony in CT and soon 2ifter a number fi-om Dorchester were showing up to 

trade . Plymouth Colony, Its History and People , page 56. 

^^ History of Plymouth County , page 100. 

^^ In 7/4/1639 Deputies or Representatiyes were chosen to go to Plymouth... Ibid, page 

103. 1640 - Court of Appraisal - bounds of the Plymouth towns were set . page 105. In 

1637 57 Men were sent to CT to fight the Pequots and return peace in the area. The 

company wiped them out almost entirely. 

^^ In 1632 Plymouth's Governor Bradford writing in "Of Plymouth Plantation" his early 

history, says " Also ye people of ye Plantation begane to grow in ther outward est at s by 

reason of ye flowing of many people into ye cuntrie And no man now though he 

could live, except he had catle and a great deal ofgrounde'' Major Bradford's History of 
Kingston, MA : 1726-1976 , by Doris Johnson Melville (Kingston, Town of Kingston, 
1976,) Page 390 

^^ The footpaths listed below are estimated only as since this time the settlers have 
worked to widen, straighten and grade the paths for use by horse, cart and today's 
automobiles. These were in the vicinity of Halifax, several that will be described below, 
but suffice it to say many East- West paths were oriented to take advantage of the sunlight 
at dawn or dusk to allow the longest avenue of travel within the daylight or moonlight. 
-Massachusetts Path - " in the vicinity of the James River"- 1637 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 29 

extended to cover the future Plympton. ^^ There were a few adventurers 
but generally in spite of numerous land grants after 1638 there is no 
record of the occupation of the land until after the danger from the 
savages was over. Middleboro and Bridgewater with strong forts for 
defense attracted some settlers. ^^ Of particular note in this scenario is 
that When the "Fortune" arrived in 1621, the wife of Dr. Samuel Fuller 
and a young Dutch boy of 5 years old (her son, his step-son) got off. 
His name was John Tomson who would be the eventual first settler to 
the environs of Halifax. ^^ Tomson was born in the North of Wales 

-King's Highway - Leaving Plymouth. . . crossing James River Bridge, "and by the 

way to Bridgewater to run up from the old road." 

-Bridgewater Path- (noted in the History of Hanson Section) Turn west a short distance 

north of the church in Bryantville, followed near Indian Head Pond till it come to where 

the road now is, a little west of the Baptist Church. 

-Nemasket Path. - "Market Street (Plymouth) which led them to the Nemasket path, the 

Indians trod to Middleboro (Description by the Director of the Dutch East India 

Company visiting Plymouth in 1 628) IBID, page 80, 252-3 . The Nemasket Path 

would pass by "wennatuxet" on the way in future Plympton. -Plympton, MA: Historical 

Sketches, etc by Charles H. Bucknell, Typed Manuscript, 1973. Original found in the 

Plympton Public Library. This note is from an article by William Perkins titled 


''^ The first grant of Land within the ancient town of Plympton was made to Jim Jenny on 

28 April, 1638. "History of Plympton" by William T. Davis found in Plympton, MA, 

Historical Sketches . 

^^ Wright's History of Plympton: 1640-1945 by Eugene Wright, edited by Charles H 

Bucknell, Plympton. This Manuscript is found in the Plympton Public Library. 

-Also in 1635 New England was hit by a Great Hurricane in August and a storm surge 

of over 12 feet. Trees were devastated in the forests and settlements damaged. Recovery 

from this would take away from land grant settlement. "New England Hurricanes" 

referring to David Ludlum's Early American Hurricanes , online at 

Further Weather in 1640/1 was the Bitter cold winter (Mass Bay frozen solid, 

Chesapeake Bay frozen across) that prevented travel and exploration Early American 

Winters 1604-1820 . page 11. 

"Life of John Thompson, first settler of Halifax: recorded memories of John Thompson 
by his 2 grandsons, Ignatius and Asa" included in the compendium manuscript original 
titled Spirit of St Louis . Original in the Halifax Public Library. 

-Ignatius' 1840's history shared some detail of this early settler. ""When I was about 
eighteen years old, I undertook with two others to trace the genealogy of my father 's 
lineage. I found that John Thompson, a young man, one of Mr. Robinson 's society after 
the death of Mr. Robinson, came over to Plymouth in the year 1622, two years after the 
first adventurers, and married Eunice Cook; by whom he had five sons, ... He settled in 
Barnstable and was there a number of years. He with eight others purchased a large tract 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 30 

around 1616/7 and arrived at 5 years old with his mother and step- 
father, his father having died in Wales when he was an infant. The 
Separatist movement was strong in Wales at this time and likely that 
was a factor in their moving to America. The family sailed in one of the 
two Thomas Weston ships bringing sixty or seventy men each, some 
with families. Historians refer to this as a "brawling, profane crowd", 
insinuating that their motives may well not have been as "religious" as 
the original settlers.^"^ Tomson's childhood years were spent learning 
how to survive with the native guide Squanto who taught about planting 
and hunting skills. ^^ When he reached a reasonable age he was 
apprenticed to Captain Church in Plymouth who taught him the art of 
surveying and carpentry which he used to help construct the first 
church in Plymouth. Sadly Captain Church and Tomson had to sue the 
settlement for payment and John finally accepted land in payment. He 
removed to Barnstable where he met and fell in love with Mary Cook 
(native of Barnstable) and they were Married. After a time there they 
stayed in Sandwich briefly, when he became interested in the purchase 
of land. In 1645 Sgt. John Tomson went on the Naragansett Expedition, 

of land of the natives called the Major's purchase, which included the whole of the towns 
now known by the names Halifax, Plympton, and Pembroke, together with a small part of 
Middleborough, Bridgewater and Kingston. I have seen the original deed. It was then in 
the hands of Isaac Thomas of Pembroke. The consideration of the deed according to the 
best of my memory was five pounds in the currency of that day which valued a dollar at 
forty five shillings; also a gallon of rum, two blankets, a gun, some powder and ball. " The 
sons of John Thompson settled the share which belonged to their father, now in the town 
of Halifax, Middleborough and Bridgewater. Thomas Thompson, from whom I descended, 

Married Mary Morton of Middleborough, by whom he had five sons, and are Their 

names were Reuben, Amos, ????, Ebenezer and Mary. " Life of John Thompson, first settler 

to Halifax, " a recorded memoir of John Thompson by his two grandsons, Ignatius and Asa. 

Manuscript in the Archives of the Halifax Congregational Church.. 

While living in Barnstable, he met and married Eunice or Mary Cook (of 

Barnstable) and the wedding was held in the new Plymouth church that John had 

built. Capt Richard Church and Squanto were part of the wedding party . Life of 

John Thompson, manuscript. . One son was named Thomas born in Barnstable. 



OVuNloO&icp=l&.intl-us ) 

^"^ Gleaned from the Tomson Family Website at under the 

section "Lieut. John Thompson". Also 


^^ From History of Halifax , by Guy Baker 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 

which would have taken him through his future land acreage. ^^John 
bought from Westasquin (sachem of the Neponsets) about 6,000 acres in 
Middleboro.^^ The land was named "Manyhootset" and it referred to "a 
little Brook called "Manyhookset a bounds in Major or Five Men's 
Purchase" ^^ In clear terms Mary and John Tomson settled on their 
land around 1663 and were on the map of "Middleberry" in 1669 as 
settled in a cabin. ^^ The author thinks it possible Tomson may have 
been in the vicinity as early as 1656 when he was chosen to form a 
military group of sixteen. It was too small to allow him the rank of 

^^ Builders of the Bay Colony by Eliot Morison (North Eastern University Press, Boston, 
1930) and Noted without reference by Guy Baker in the History of Halifax . He further 
notes that the purchase from the "Indian Chief the Major's Purchase and the chief was 

^' The tract is slated to be five miles long and from which eventually more than 100 
farms were carved. IBID, Thompson Family website. 

^^ This is an Indian Deed dated 1663. In the Major's Purchase it describes as "between a 
cart path on the North, and a new path on the south from Plymouth to Namasket, ..." 
Indian Names of Places in Plymouth, Middleboro, Lakeville and Carver, Plymouth 
County. MA. 

< 1 6.html > 
-Harry Brown in his "Spirit of St Louis" anthology of Halifax events, notes the purchase 
at 1661 or 1663 of the 26 Men's Purchase. This early confusion grants us a vague 
window of arrival 

- Also from the History of Hanson, Massachusetts , "The territory of Hanson consists 
largely of what is known as the "Major's Purchase", bought by Josiah Winslow and 
thirty-four others of the Indian sachem Josias Wampatuck, which was executed July 9, 
1662 . It was "Bounded by the lands of Plymouth and Duxbury on one side, and of 
Bridgewater on the other side, and extending North and South from the lands purchased 
by Capt. Thomas Southworth unto the Great Ponds at Mattakeeset, provided it include 
not the thousand acres given to my son and George Wampy about these ponds." It is 
probable that the thousand acres referred to were never bought of the aborigines, but 
gradually became occupied by the early settlers as they died or left for other parts of the 
country. The Bridgewater line mentioned in the deed ran near where the school-house on 
Beal's Hill now stands in a direct line to the west part of the "Tilden place". In April, 
1 684, " The Proprietors agreed and chose John Thomson (of Middleboro ), Nathaniel 
Thomas (of what is now Hanson), and John Soule (of Duxbury) a committee of said 
proprietors to settle the bounds of the said tract called the Major's Purchase." For this 
service they had grants of land set off, that of John Thomason being in the eastem part, 
and one of the bounds, a pitch-pine tree on the "shore of Herring pond" (now called 
Stetson's Pond), in Pembroke, is still standing." 

http://www.rootsweb.cotn/~machanso/HistorvHanson.htinl (Text Copy also found in the Plympton Public 

The Name was in flux around this time between Namasket, the Native name, the name 
Middleberry and Middleboro. History of Plymouth County , page 103 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 32 

captain (he applied to the governor and council in Plymouth) so they 
designated him as ^'ensign commander". His task was to guard the fort 
and other places in the future Midddleboro settlement. The presence of 
the English were growing as noted in two events: First the 1642 joining 
of the colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New 
Haven to form the federation called The United Colonies ^^, and 
secondly, in 1643 the Articles of Confederation were fashioned to create 
the United Colonies of New England. ^^ John and Mary came to their 
land portion and needed to build a log home and garden. The narrative 
from the Thompson Family Website shared what happened next, 
''One noontime, being thirsty when working alone in a field, he followed 
to a source in a spring brook that had a few fish in it. By spring he had 
built a log house about twenty rods from what is the Plymouth, but later 
the Halifax, boundary line. The early settlers frequently, as in this case, 
built their homes in secluded spots, in order to take advantage of some 
natural water supply, as they had no tools for digging wells, other than 
wooden shovels bound with iron."^^ If some supplies were needed the 
only place initially was Plymouth, a 12 mile walk. ^^This was the way 
people did if they were to attend church or get supplies, which were 
ferried home on one's back. ' Notably Tomson always carried his 
musket. John Tomson was ordered by the Plymouth Court to survey 
and make a road to the ''purchase land". Obadiah Eddy and James 
Soule assisted him. It is noteworthy that they were neighbors in the late 
1660's. ^ 

^^ Ibid, page 107. 


Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Massachusetts by Robert I 
Vexler, Editor (Oceanna Publications, Dobbs Ferry, NY, 1978), page 5 In 1650 the 
population of Plymouth had grown to 1,566. When the Tomsons settled m "Middleboro" 
around 1660 the population of Plymouth was 1,980. In another ten years that had risen to 
5,333!! (Page 6) 
^^ Ibid, Thomson Family website.. 

It was 12 miles walk to Plymouth, 4 miles to the neighbor in Plympton (Soule), 7 miles 
to the new fort in Middleboro, Neighbors in Kingston and Bridgewater were further still 
(11 and 13 miles). 

^^ Simultaneously, 'Vhen a few more settlers had moved onto land this side of Nemasket 
Riyer (North of it- Rey. W) the settlement was first known as Nemasket. ... By order of 
the court this settlement was called Middleberry. The central meeting place was at the 
green, now known as Middleboro Green. "Middleberry, 1669; Halifax, 1734" a 
compendium by Harry S. Brown. Original manuscript in the Halifax Public Library. This 
notation loosely refers to the Plymouth Court Records. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 33 

Obadiah Eddy is noted to be just across the future border and 
next to the Winnetuxet^^ River and close neighbor to James Soule.^^ 
John Soule and Obadiah Eddy were likely good friends to Tomson 
from an early time as their treks in life and exploration paralleled a bit. 
John Soule's father and family were descended from John Cooke of the 
Mayflower. It is likely John and Son George Soule may have been 
originally speculators of land since he is noted in the 1662 "Proprietors" 
as being "of Duxbury". ^^ By 1669 the Soule Family was in place. 

Obadiah Eddy (core of the future "Eddyville") was the 
descendant of Samuel Eddy, a tailor who arrived around 1630 in 
Plymouth. ^^ Obadiah Eddy was born in Plymouth in 1645. His older 

^^ Winnetuxet means "at the good brook" - Indian Place Names of New England 

compiled by John C. Huden (NY, Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation, 

1902) page 288. 

^^ Map in Appendix titled as "1669 wilderness known as Middleberry". 

^^( The Soule Family is noted in Plympton in the First Cemetery.) This reference 

mentioned also is noted in the History of Hanson, . See also the 1669 "Map" of 

Middleberry. . 

^ Among the passengers in the "Handmaid" that landed in Plymouth on October 29, 1630 were 
John and Samuel Eddy. John, thirty-three years of age and his brother Samuel, twelve years 
younger, were sons of William Eddy, the Vicar of St. Dunstan's, Cranbrook, England, from 1591- 
1616. John settled in Watertown, Mass. becoming the first Town Clerk and a member of the 
Board of Selectmen. Samuel settled in Plymouth. He was admitted as a Freeman in 

1633 when but three hundred people were there. Records Indicate that he built on what is now 
Market Street in the center of town. Later with a growing family, he built a second house in the 
Hobb's Hole section. In England he had been apprenticed to the tailor's trade, which bears out 
records of clothing he made for soldiers in Plymouth's early battles with the Indians. His 
marriage to Elizabeth Savery resulted in the birth of five children. She must have been of a 
decidedly independent nature as twice she was recorded in a court of law. The first offense was 
for "wringing and hanging out of clothes on the Lord's Day in time of public exercise.. Her second 
"grievous crime" was that she "walked from Plymouth to Boston on the Lord's Day* - even though 
it was an errand of mercy to aid an ailing friend. Soon Samuel evinced a leaning toward 

purchase and sale of property. There is an interesting entry of ownership of "four shares with 
Joshua Pratt and Thorn Atkinson in the black heifer which was Henry Howlandes." He bought 
property in Swansea and is recorded as a founder of the town. Of primary interest to 

Middleboro is the knowledge that he is listed as one of the first purchasers of land from the 
Indians. This was the so-called Twenty-six Men's Purchase in 1661. His share consisted of 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 34 

brother Zechariah Eddy was apprenticed out as a boy and eventually 
after apprenticeship was concluded he owned a furnace just south of 
Edyville and Obadiah's home Just south of the Winnetuxet River and 
just west of James Soule. ^^ He married Bennett Ellis in Plymouth 
around 1668. His father had significant land holdings as well and in 
time deeded portions of it to John and Zechariah near Middleboro. 
Obadiah actually was the first Eddy to settle permanently two miles 
from the cabin of John Tomson next to the River (Winnetuxet) and the 
arrival of this family would have been between the years 1657 and 1668 
bounded by the formation of the "train band" to protect the 
Middleberry Fort and the visible existence on the 1669 Map of 
Middleberry. Since he was married in Plymouth in 1668, it seems 
probable that a 1663 date or thereabouts is better given his 
participation in the survey of the original Purchase with Tomson and 

Another pioneer in this vicinity with early, pre-Halifax Church 
roots is Ephraim Tinkham, a chair maker and woodworker of some 
renown. ^^ Ephraim and his family likely arrived in the early 1670's and 

several hundred acres in the easterly section of Middleboro and a portion of what is now Halifax . - 

--Samuel also had a "servant" who some refer to as a slave actually. He likely 

brought him from Kent, England to America. If so it would be Plymouth's first. 

This servant's name was "Thomas Brian". <Came to attention for running away 

from his master, was captured and publicly whipped in Plymouth. { Plymouth 

County Records , Book One, page 7} . 

^^ For notes on the Soule Family, esp. Zachariah see "The Eddy's In America Website : historv.htm esp "Third Generation" section. 
^ "Ephriam TINKHAM b: 5 August 1649 m Plymouth d: 13 October 1714 in 
Middleboro, Nemasket Miscellaneous: Chairmaker for Plymouth Colony. His chairs are 

well known " 

~ also- '^The record of Ebenezer Tinkham*s death calls him Deacon. He was one of the 
orginal members of the First Chnrch of Middleboro and one of its first deacons. The will of 
Ebenezer Tinkham Sr. of Middleboro, yeoman, dated 3 April 1718, sworn 28 April 1718, 
names sons Ebenezer and Shuball; dau. Joanna Macomber; wife Elizabeth; son Jeremiah 
Tinkham*s children: Jeremiah, Ebenezer & Joanna and their mother Joanna Tinkham; and 
granddaughter Elizabeth Tinkham'' from the Ancestors of ^Michael and David Harvey'' 
website: http://www.mdhervev.eom/web/Dafweb/pafg63.htm#1527 . 
-There are notations of Tinkhams also in early Plympton into the 1700's (Ephriam (gsn ) 
was buried in the Old Cemetery on Plympton Green. " Old Cemeteries of SouthEastem. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 35 

settled on land throughout southern (future) Halifax. He is noted as a 
participant in the military band it Middleboro as the natives troubled 
the settlers more and more. Add to this mention of George Damson, 
who settled south of John Tomson (on Tomson Road) and who was later 
warned about the natives attacking but did not heed and was killed in 
the attack. ^^ His home would be just north of the current day River 
Street, I believe. ^^ 

Mention also needs to be made of a further family, the Fullers. 
The Fullers were originally mentioned when Dr. Samuel Fuller's wife 
and stepson arrived in 1622 (John Tomson). Samuel's son, Samuel was 
the first minister of the First Church of Middleboro (on the green) . His 
son, Samuel, was one of the founders of Plympton, MA. ^^ Evidence 
noted his settlement off of "Fuller" street south of the Winnetuxet 
River. (1669 Map of: Middleberry") and south of Obadiah Eddy's 
house. He left after his house was burned in the Indian war and 
returned later to be ordained and pastor the Middleboro First Church.^"* 

Mass ", compilation of records by Charles M. Thatcher in the late 1880's 

(Middleborough Public Library, Middleborough, MA, 1995 "Old Cemetery on Plympton 

Green opposite church". 

^' Refer to the 1669 "Middleberry" Map. This is notation he was settled before this 


Place noted generally in the 1734 Map of Halifax illustrated in the History of Halifax 
by Baker. 

^ http -.//www. .html 
Like his father, he likely was a metalworker and foundry artisan. 

Dr. Samuel Fuller (his father) was the first physician in the colony. He married (according to 
Leyden records) (first) Elsie Glasscock; (second) Agnes Carpenter, but his children are by his 
third wife, Bridget Lee, of Plymouth. She came to Massachusetts on the ship "Ann" in 1623. She 
was married to Dr. Samuel Fuller in Leyden, in 1617. Their first child was bom in Leyden, but 
died soon after their arrival at Plymouth. <In the late 1629, Eh" Fuller was summoned to Salem 
for illness, and he was taken by water from Plymouth. History of American Congregationalism , 
pages 76-77. > Dr. Samuel died in 1633, leaving an only son Samuel, and an only daughter 
Mercy, who married Ralph James Samuel (2) Fuller , only son of Dr. Samuel (1) and Bridget 
(Lee) Fuller, was bom in 1624, died August 17, 1695. He was a minister of the gospel. His 
tombstone reads: "Here Lyes ye body of ye Rev. Mr. Samuel Fuller who departed this life Aug. ye 
1 7, 1695, in ye list year of his age. He was ye 1st minister of ye 1st church of Christ in 
Middleboro. " He was a deacon of the Plymouth church, and ordained a minister, December 25, 
1 694, but he had preached to the Middleboro congregation sixteen years before his ordination. He 
was a sincere, godly man, and was sincerely lamented by his people. In the settlement of his 
estate, found in probate records of Middleboro, book I, page 246, dated October 1, 1695, 
Elizabeth is mentioned as the widow of Rev. Samuel Fuller; Samuel, as the oldest son; John, as 
the second son; Isaac, as the youngest, and under age. The daughters mentioned are Mercy, wife 
of Daniel Cole; Fixperience, wife of James Wood; Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Eaton, and an 
unmarried daughter Hannah. Elizabeth Fuller, his widow, died at Plympton, Massachusetts, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 36 

This area of his settlement later became known as "FuIIertown" and 
would become part of South Halifax. ^^ These settlers, while not 
guaranteed exhaustive, show a nucleus of people in the southern part of 
Halifax whose descendants will be formative in the formation of the 
Halifax Congregational Church. This we can refer to as the 

Our pre-Halifax Church reconnoitering moved northwards and 
eastwards into the archaic Plympton area. Samuel Sturtevant (and 
various spellings) was part of a family that would widely spread in New 
England. Samuel Sturtevant's father Samuel Sturtevant Sr., was a 
'Townsman of Plymouth" in 1640 . He was listed, at Plymouth, in 
August 1643, among the males between the ages of 16 and 60 able to 
bear arms. Under the law of the time he was thus a member of the 
Plymouth Train Band and did normal military service. There is no 
record of his having combat duty. He was not listed in the small 
detachment sent from the colony to the Pequot Wars. After 1645, he was 
assigned to the north squadron of the Plymouth Company whose 
emergency assembly point was Jones River. This is significant due to its 
vicinity with Halifax. His father had purchased a right in the '^Major's 
Purchase" and so was a landowner when son Samuel arrived.^^ Samuel, 

November 11, 1713. Samuel (3), son of Rev. Samuel (2) and Elizabeth Fuller, was one of the 

first settlers of Plympton, Massachusetts. 

William Hyslop Fuller, Genealogy of Some Descendants of Dr. Samuel Fuller , (Palmer, Massachusetts C. 

B. Fiske & Co. 1910), pg. 15, Gravestone inscription reads: "Here lyes ye bodie of ye Rev. Samuel Fuller, 

who departed this life Aug. ye 17, 1695, in ye 71st year of his age. He was ye 1st minister of ye church in 



^^ As mentioned in "Short Stories" by Harry S. Brovm in his Unpublished Manuscript. . 

^^ Samuel Sturtevant the emigrant lived and died in North Plymouth near the rope 

walk now called the Cotton farm. He attained a right in the Major's Purchase of 

Edward Gray. When the division lots were drawn, his lot fell on the southwest 

corner of the purchase bounded by the Plymouth line on the north and Bridgewater 

on the west. Sanael (Jr) built a house on the south side of the road near the bend 

about twenty rode westerly from the burying ground. From Ignatius Thompson's 

1840 Narrative "History of the Town of Halifax" . (One acre and 1/4 be it more or less 

lying and being at Monponsett in the Township of Plimpton aforesaid being part of my 

ancient homestead., "layout of later Sturtevant Cemetery gives an orientation of his land 

as well.: Registry of Deeds, Plymouth, Mass. , Book 23 Page 78 "Burial Ground No. 106, 

June, 1728") 

-It is noted by a local historian in Plympton in 1662 there was a land grant to Samuel 

Sturtevant and Ephriam Tinkham. (History of Plympton by William T. Davis within the 

compendium titled " Plympton, Massachusetts; Historical Sketches", etc by Charles H 

Buckneli, 1973. Manuscript in the Plymptom Public Library. ) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 37 

Jr, helped lay out a route across Jones River to the Massachusetts Path 
prior to June 10, 1650; was elected one of the Surveyors for Highways of 
Plymouth Town on June 5, 1651. On December 25, 1655, he was granted 
by Plymouth Town 4 acres of meadow land on the north side of a 
branch of Jones River. Five years later the town granted him 50 acres of 
land on the north side of Jones River on the southeast side of his 
meadow. This 50 acres he exchanged in July 1667, for 50 acres at the 
south end of Monponsett^^ Pond abutting 50 acres of Mr. William 
Bradford's. By grant or purchase he acquired considerable other land, 
and in his right some grants were made to his widow after his death ^^ 
Our 1840 historian, Ignatius Thompson's overview of the Sturtevants is 
found in the Archives of the Halifax Congregational Church and the 
Halifax Historical Society. Notice however the growing number of 

^^ Monpossett - "at the deep clear place"- - Indian Place Names of New England 
compiled by John C. Huden (NY, Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation, 
1902) page 122. 

^^ Samuel Sturtevant was bom on 16 April 1654 at Plymouth, Plymouth County, 
Massachusetts. He married Mary (Mercy) Cornish circa 1674. He married Elizabeth 
Smith on 12 August 1715 at Beveriy, Essex County, Massachusetts. He died on 21 April 
1 736 at Halifax, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, at age 82 years and 5 days. He was 
buried after 21 April 1736 at Monponsett Lake Cemetery, Halifax, Plymouth County, 

1. Mercy Sturtevant married David Bosworth. She was bom in 1680 at Plymouth, 
Plymouth County, Massachusetts. 

2. Samuel Sturtevant was bom in 1 682 at Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. 

3. Nehemiah Sturtevant was bom in 1 682 at Plymouth, Plymouth County, 
Massachusetts. He died on 22 August 1744 at Plympton, Plymouth County, 
Massachusetts, at age 62 years. 

4. William Sturtevant was bom in 1683 at Plymouth, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. 
He married Fear Cushman, daughter of Isaac Cushman and Rebecca Harlow, on 12 
Febmary 1 706/7 at Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He married Joanna 
Dunbar on 25 January 1747 at Halifax, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He died on 28 
August 1753 at Halifax, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, at age 70 years. He was buried 
after 28 August 1753 at Monponsett Lake Cemetery, Halifax, Plymouth County, 

a) Isaac Sturtevant was bom on 10 August 1 708 at Halifax, Plymouth County, 
Massachusetts. He married Sarah Fuller, daughter of Nathaniel Fuller and Martha 
Sampson, on 8 April 1731 at Plympton, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. He died on 6 
Febmary 1 750/5 1 at Halifax, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, at age 42 years, 5 months 
and 27 days. He was buried after 6 February 1750/51 at Monponsett Lake Cemetery, 
Halifax, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. 

http://www. Prepared by: Arthur M. & Lois M. 
Griffiths, 338 Norris Hill Road, Monmouth, ME 04259; 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 38 

people living in the environs of Plympton (proto-Halifax), just south of 
Monpossett's ponds. It is also noted that the Waterman Family had 
interests in the vicinity but did not settle until much later after the 
Indian war.^^ Deacon Robert Waterman owned land where the present 
day Halifax Country Club stands, which was the Woodcroft Farm. ^^^ 
This small community formed another nucleus of people for the future 
Halifax Church Family that I will refer to as the PLYMPTON- 

The very earliest industry was the use and profit from the 
tremendous forests that were found in the area from primeval times. 
The English had short-range utility for the forests, only as sources of 
lumber, heat and charcoal for iron later on.^^' The first priority for 
newcomers was to clear the land so it can be used for food crops and 
grazing. The economy of early New England was based on cheap and 
abundant fuel on hand. The richness of the countryside was opened up 
by the trails the natives used. A few small trading posts were established 
as the Europeans tapped the rich wildlife and timber resources.^^^ As the 


Robert Waterman was a signer among others (including Christopher Wadsworth, 
ancestor of the author) of a sale from Wamsutta for the land once known as 
"Freetown". In 1660 . Wamsutta did NOT agree: "December 24th, 1657. Whereas 
Capt. James Cudworth, Mr. Josiah Winslow, senior, Constant Southworth and John 
Barnes, have been with me Wamsutta to buy a parcel of land, which they say is 
granted by the court of Plymouth unto themselves with some others, and I Wamsutta 
am not willing at present to sell all they doe desire and .... Liberty to purchase had 
been granted by the colonial court in session at Plymouth, July 3, 1656, or nearly a 
year and a half before Wamsutta was prevailed on to execute the foregoing bond for a 
deed (for the document also contained the conditions of a bond) in a part we omitted 
to copy, and fifteen months expired after the date of the bond before the execution of 
the deed that found a place in the public records ...". Indian History and Geneology 
Book , APPENDIX No. 11 Page 38. 

^"" Yesterday and Today : Town of Halifax . 250^ Anniversary Book (The History 
Committee of Halifax, 1 984) , page 69. 

'^' Iron Foundries had sprung up in various places near Halifax. In 1648 Timothy 
Hataday "requested to erect an iron mill in Scituate (now Pembroke) on Mattaskeet 
Pond" in 1648. In 1740 in Hanover, Joseph and Thomas Jesselyn " made anchors and 
parts of vessels m shipbuilding. (The anchor for the new ship "Constitution" was made 
there) Joseph Holmes discovered iron on the Jones River (Kingston) while fishing. This 
tremendous cache of ore was called "Holmes' Iron". Cranberries and Cannonballs by 
Fredrika A Burrows (Taunton, William S. Sullwald, 1976) page 24-5, 30-1 . 

Since the natives had practiced a ritual burning of the underbrush for many years, the 
remaining canopy trees were of tremendous size, some not branching for over thirty feet 
above the forest floor and may be well beyond three feet wide as a rule. Other trees 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 39 

land was tapped it was not replanted and so the timber was not replaced. 
This is especially apparent in the shipbuilding industry that eventually 
flourished in Kingston. ^^^ The Halifax River systems were also of use for 
transport of ships and wood. 

In order for the Halifax Community to exist there must be roads 
and trails for commerce and travel. The earliest roads follow either the 
waterways or the existing Indian (foot) trails. Many of them have been 
changed and rerouted as the town grew, and as the need for horse or cart 
became prudent. . The trails would be the means that people would use 
to get to worship when the future meetinghouse is created. '^"^ The earliest 
trails by the settlers had their terminus in Plymouth. The Plymouth 
Path that began in Plymouth as described in 1628 exited "Market Street 
which led them to the Nemasket Path, the Indian Trail to Middleboro."^^^ 
Likewise, as noted before, JohnTomson, Obadiah Eddy and James Soule 
were ordered by the Plymouth Court to make a road in the Purchase 

obviously far exceeded this measurement. Since the Europeans had already decimated their 
forests, these magnificent trees were most valuable, especially for shipbuilding. Yet the 
uncontrolled chopping of trees may have caused fiiction with the natives since in very early 
Springfield, a law was passed to protect the "canoe trees" of the natives, making the 
harvesting of them punishable by law. The Northfield Mountain Interpreter , page 11 0, 113, 

The New settlers did not care about the forests beyond their short range utility. Once a site 
or homestead was chosen there would be a springtime "chopping bee" to clear the land at which 
time a party was given to those who came in potluck fashion. Usually several sites were cleared at 
one gathering. The fallen trees would be left to dry out over the summer, then set on fire to remove 
limbs. The remaining trunks were cut through with small fires placed next to them with the various 
sections dragged to a pile to be ignited in a huge conflagration. Stumps were removed later. The 
whole economy was based on cheap, available and abundant fuel. A family required nearly 1 5 cords 
or wood each winter (approx. 3/5 acre of forest). By 1 795 according to a traveling Timothy 
Dwight, "No more than 20 miles of wooded land in 50 or 60 parcels were observed between Boston 
and New York !" The Great River: Art and Societv of the Connecticut Vallev: 1635-1820 by the 
Wadsworth Athenaeum (Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, 1986), page 13. 

=Aldo note the descriptions of Verrazanno (1524) explorer as he describes the forests in his foray 
into this area. Footnote number 1 6 

'^^ Refer to the "Ships of Kingston" (1800-1926), a 5 box set of records and drawings, 
Kingston Public Library, Manuscript Collecfion, MC-5 

The original roles of the Middleboro Church (First Church) included a number of 
names that eventually would travel north to Halifax rather than South to Middleboro. 
Names such as : Dawson, Eddy, Fuller, Pratt, Tinkham, Tomson, Wood., etc. Early 
Settlers of the Town of Middle borough in the History of the Town of Middleboro , page 
'*^^ History of Plymouth Countv . page 78. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 40 

land. South of the Nemasket Path was the connecting Agawam Path that 
went through present day Carver. ^^^ "The Stone Weir marks the 
crossing of the Snake River of the first Indian Trail through this region. 
This fording place is on the stream that runs through Halifax from 
Monpossett Pond to Robbins Pond. The Indian trail crossing here 
allowed the traveler to come towards Hemlock lane, turn towards the 
lakes and followed Lingan Street until reaching the present Cross Street. 
Continuing south through the field and out near the present corner of 
Plymouth and Monpossett Streets. The trail then led easterly towards 
the old Plymouth Street Cemetery opposite Richmond park. At this 
point the path ran between the present cemetery and the lakeshore. 

The Present thoroughfare we know as "106" was first identified on 
a Latham Map as having been established in 1667. It was called the 
Bridgewater Trail." '^^ In the History of Kingston by Melville, this road is 
noted as follows "The Bridgewater Path started at the "Point" and 
includes today's Main Street (106) from Summer Street to Turo's Comer 
and then west on Wapping Road, continuing to the Plympton line. (Laid 
out likely in the 1660's.)*'^ 

The path from Middleboro ran North to the Eddy and Fuller 
homesteads' vicinity and then split running northerly into Halifax.'^ 
The Easternmost "arc" runs up present day Fuller Street ^^^ and connects 
into South Street which would eventually connect with the Bridgewater 
Path (Route 106) at it's terminus. The other westerly "arc" is the route 
of Thompson Street, continuing northwards into Halifax and also 
reaching the Bridgewater Path (There 105 and 106 meet)^^^ 

^^^ History of the Town of Carver by Henry S. Griffith (E. Anderson & Sons, New 

Bedford, MA, 1913) . Notes as a use of this trail, "The first to take the Nemasket Path 

(etc) was John Derby, who in 1637 took up a claim of 60 acres... (Carver). 

^^^ This was taken fi-om Baker's History of Halifax, page 149. It is certainly likely that 

John Tomson, within his Plymouth Court Mandate, laid out or approved the Trail. 

^^^ Major Bradford's Town: A History of Kingston. MA: 1726-1976 by Doris Johnson 

Melville (Kingston, Town of Kingston, MA, 1976) page 20, 355, 382. hi a Land deed to 

Bryant " In 1664, 10 acres were given to Bryant 'by his meadow on the west side 

beginning at the Path goeing to Bridgewater." 

^^^ The existence of remnants of archaic stone walls attest to early travel on these and 

South Street for example. 

' ^^ As attested by the numerous stone walls and archaic settlements at the southern end of 


^^' There is a "12" marker on 106 that indicates the 12 mile- midpoint between Plymouth 

and Brockton. . This road was rife with early settlers. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 41 

The treatment of the native Americans was a combination of many 
tactics amidst the collision of the two cultures. The English settlers came 
with an agenda to accomplish. The Natives were already wary as some of 
them (like Squanto) had been kidnapped or enslaved, or food or graves 
ransacked by explorers. There was an air of cultural superiority even 
though the two cultures had to intersect in an even-handed manner. 
Many letters call the Indians "Savages". The Natives were to be dealt 
and incorporated into the "civilized" system of the Europeans. Massive 
land Grants were traded for a small token. <The humorously used 
"Purchase of Manhattan" for beads and so forth was repeated in smaller 
scales in Plymouth County .> The other agenda was religious. The 
Natives were to be introduced and compelled to Christianity. In 1646, 
The Mass General Court passed a severe "heresy" law which provided 
the death penalty for any person who denied the Holy Scriptures were 
the Word of God". Shortly thereafter (July, 1649) Governor Winthrop 
pressed the society to propagate the Gospel in New England. ''^ Pastor 
Cotton of Plymouth instructed the Indians from the OT and the NT. ^^"^ 
To the credit of the Natives there were formed a number of "Indian 
Churches" in Plymouth County. These were generally self-governing 
Christian bodies, which also gave rise to the use of a legal system similar 
to the Europeans (Separatists' version of democracy).^ ^^ The Halifax- 

^'^ In some circles the Indians were noted as possibly one of the Lost Tribes of Israel to 
be reclaimed through Christianity. 

' '^ Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Massachusetts , page 5, and 
The Town of Middleboro , Mass, page 16, who continues "... mot only was an attempt 
made to introduce a change in their customs and dress of the natives, but teachers were 
appointed to carry out the work of instruction. " Notably in 1635 there were 13 ministers 
in all of Massachusetts. By 1645 this number had grovm to 80. The Puritan in England 
and New England , page 122. The reason for this shortage was that there was no money 
to maintain these ministers and teachers. In fact From "Hutchinson's Collection (Pastor 
in Salem in 1629- )" we fmd the Royal Commissioner reporting to the King in 1666 that 
they had found in the Plymouth Colony "only twelve small towns" and that the people 
were so poor that they were not able to maintain scholars to their ministering, but were 
necessitated to make use of a gifted brother in some places." Manuscript - No. 417 held 
at the New England Genealogical and Historical Society , Boston. . 

History of the Town of Middleboro, page 18ff (This was our ftiture first pastor's 

^'The members of the Indian Church show how earnest and faithful their labors must 
have been.... These churches adopted a form of church government; deacons and 
officers were appointed by different tribes to adjudicate and settle matters of discipline 
between them ; they had their own schoolmaster, and constables to enforce the orders 
and decrees of the officials." < Note- 'Svhether attempts to establish a local government 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 42 

Middleboro-Plympton-Bridgewater-Pembroke area had several Native 
concentrations and churches would have a set-off part of the gallery area 
for Indians that worshipped with them. '^^ This gives a picture of 
harmony, but there was also a dark side to the relationship between the 
Natives and the settlers. Although there were laws against it, settlers did 
sell or trade guns and ammunition and liquor with the Natives. In 1654 
some areas were more vigilant than others were."^ The disruptions the 
natives had were global with the loss of their land, loss of their way of 
life, introduction of disease, foreign culture and religion, and the 
strength and technology of the English. The Natives under King Phillip 
began to arm themselves and the leaders in Plymouth heard about it, who 
in 1671 sent a detail to quash the plans and to stop the potential 
insurrection. ^'^ In June, 1675 hostilities broke out in Swansea and 
spread elsewhere. ^^^ In 1675, Plymouth's Major Josias Winslow took 
Wamsutta (and his wife Weetamoo? ) prisoner on White Island (in future 
Halifax on the dividing peninsula of the East and West Monpossett Lake 
bodies) and this may have also been a flashpoint of King Phillips War ^^^. 
John Tomson fled his settlement cabin and headed for the Middleboro 
Fort on Thompson Street, and according to folklore advised neighbor 
George Dawson to also go. Dawson was killed in the coming attack. 

by the Indians for their own protection which was instructed by Eliot for the Indians of 
Natick and Nonantum, . . . ever was adopted in Plymouth County nay be a matter of 
douvt. . . ." Ibid, Page 17. > The Indian Court in Barnstable existed and there exists a 
warrant in that County as follows, ""I Hihoudi ' you Peter Waterman, Jeremy Wicket; 
Quick you take him, Fast you hold him, Straight you bring him, Before me, Hohoudi^ 
^ '^ Puritans in England and New England , page 142. Also History of American 
Congregationalism, pages 266, This was a challenging point because as Staunch 
Calvinists they believed that God would open the hearts and minds of the Indians. This 
morphed in time to a directed mission movement to the Natives. 

' ^^ Plymouth Colony , by Stratton, gives the text of a 1 654 law against selling spirits and 
guns to the Natives. Page 108-9. 

*^ Rev. James Keith, first pastor in Bridgewater wrote to the Assistant Governor in 
Plymouth "We are in expectation every day of an assault here. The Lord prepare us for 
our trial. <Gleaned fi-om History of the Indian Wars in New England fi-om First 
Settlement to the Termination of the War with King Phillip in 1673 by Rev. William 
Hubbard , Vol. 1, 1677> in King Phillips War: the History and Legacy of America's 
Forgotten War by Schultz and Tongas, Page 126-8. 

' '^ Perhaps that is why the Massachusetts General Court passed a law in May, 1673 
requiring the LOCKING of church doors (during the services). Chronology and 
Documentary Handbook of the State of Massachusetts ., page 7 
^■^^ This is noted in the manuscript anthology "Middleberry, 1669; Halifax, 1734" by 
Brown within an article from Indians on Cape Cod, by Asa Thompson, 1 892. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 43 

Looking back he saw the light from his burning cabin as the natives had 
set it ablaze. ^^* The houses of John Tomson, William Nelson, Obadiah 
Eddy, John Morton, Henry Wood, George Dawson, Francis Coombs and 
William Clarke . Mr. Barrows (owner of the grist mill in Middleboro) 
saw the Natives coming to get revenge for the death of another Native 
(using John Tomson's long gun suitable for long range targets, Isaac 
Rowland shot a native from a rock near the fort at a distance of 155 
rods. The wounded man was taken to a nearby house (William Nelson) 
and died there. The rampaging natives burned houses, Fuller's Iron 
works, the Grist mill and other structures. '^^ At the Fort, as early as 
June natives had showed up to taunt the settlers which precipitated the 
shot mentioned before. In July, John Tomson sent a letter to the 
Governor asking for further help . The Natives would shout and 
celebrate the destruction atop Titticut Hill (until a shot from Tomson's 
long gun scattered them from the fort. Y^^ In July, 1676, when King 
Phillip was killed the insurrection died down and it was time for repairs. 
'^"^ Some folks like Samuel Fuller would return to Plymouth until the 
1690's. John Tomson returned to his land and built a new home, a 
Garrison house, with strong walls and Indian Shutters for protection. 
Others likewise rebuilt and began again. The King Phillips War served 
to destroy the native's ability to stem the influx of arriving Europeans 
and to far lessen themselves as a threat to the colonists as they spread 
westwards. It also served as a release for further settlement of towns. In 
June, 1685 when Plymouth County was recast as Barnstable, Bristol and 
Plymouth Counties, with a cumulative tri-county population of around 5, 
200. '^^ One of the more amusing anecdotes found was the attempt in 
1677 made by Obadiah Eddy to build a canal for the eventual transport 
of ship lumber and for water travel. It failed and was never dug. '^^ 

'^' History of Halifax by Baker, , page 127; see also King Phillips War : by Schultz and 
Torgas on page 44 noting that the exact date was June 9, 1673. 

Mr. Barrows, running from his home put his coat on a tall pole as he ran and the 
natives thought he was a tall man and shot at the coat. Barrows lived. In July, attacks 
continued. J. Marks was shot in the leg and hid in a field of Indian com in Middleboro 
for 48 hours and was not discovered but he died after his rescue. 

History of the Town of Middleboro , pages 76-79, and 386. 

The same James Keith noted in an earlier footnote of this study debated other clergy in 
Plymouth who wanted to also kill King Phillip's wife and 9 year old son, but he 
persuaded them to not do that. Kins Phillips War: America's Forgotten War , page 128. 

Chronology and Documentary Handbook. . . . page 6,8. By 1690 this had grown to 

Gleaned from "Spirit of St. Louis" anthology of Halifax facts by Harry Brown. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 44 

This reconstruction period (ca 1677-1690) was also a time of 
improved infrastructure as well. John Tomson was on a Jury to lay out a 
road from Plymouth to Taunton. ^^^ In 1690 a road was built from 
Middleboro to the Bridgewater Path. 

Hopefully the reader gets the impression that the progenitors of the 
church in Halifax were quite involved in the surrounding towns and 
churches. Their biographs show that they are involved ongoing and this 
certainly bodes quite well for the formation of the new town and church. 
'^^ Also as weather in SE Massachusetts is Unpredictable, see the note 
concerning especially challenging times in the midst of all the 
foundational work these brave folks have done in the underpinnings of 
Halifax and the Halifax Congregational Church. *^^ 

^^^ From the History of the Town of Middleboro , this Jury contained a number of familiar 
folks: Isaac Howland, Obadiah Eddy, Ephriam Tinkham, Ebenezer Tinkham, and 
Samuell Wood, etc. On May 15, 1688, John Tomson reported to the County Court the 
road had been laid out successfully. In 1689 a Boston highway was envisioned from 
Middleboro, Bridgewater and further north towards Boston. <perhaps, tongue-in-cheek, 
that may be the finishing of modem-day route 44 in 2006? > page 508-9. Samuel Fuller 
returned soon after this to begin his ministry the First Church in Middleboro. "October, 
1678. In answer to the petition referred to the Court by Francis Combe, and likewise the 
Court being informed that Samuel Fullerm is in likelyhood to be procured to teach the 
word of God at Middleberry, they doe approve hereof: ..."Page 552. 
- 1695- A path was envisioned from John Tomson's Garrison house to Middleberry., 
Middleboro Green ''passed through the swamp by a piece pf land near the shingle mill of 
Jabez Thompson, to a ford way above the bridge called Thompson Bridge, then to a 
pathway passing Timothy Woods now Don Randall's house on River Street crossing the 
stream below the saw mill dam in Middleboro'^ From "Short Stories" by Harry S. Brown. 
^^^ SEE list on the Next page.. 
^ ^^ 1 63 7-8 - Winter Unusually severe - Boston- 1 8" 

* 1641-2 - Boston Bay frozen over < Native Americans said the same thing 
hadn't happened for 40 years, since around 1600> . Ice was strong enough to support 
people, horses, carts and animals driven across. The rivers in Virginia were also frozen 

1680-1- Coldest winter in 40 years according to Rev. Increase Mather. 

1684-5 - Boston Harbor frozen over, thick ice.* 

1685-6 - 3 Day January snowstorm in succession (1/3), extreme cold and high 
wind. Another succession of three storms in February. 

1 692-3 = Very high snow and cold in Early February* 

1693-4 = Dec 30- 7 days of snow, vdnd and cold. * 

1694-5 = From Dec 30 - March - Extreme cold and three memorable Snows in 

Feb. and March. Travel was unlikely and dangerous mostly.* 

1695-6 = Heavy Snowstorm (3/8) no travel for some time.* 

1697-8 - Charles River was frozen solid, several storms all winter; Nov-1, Dec- 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 



THEY DID: 1650-1695. 

John Tomson, Sr . = Middleboro Garrison Fort Commander "Captain": 1657- 
1680+, Highway and road Surveyer - 1640's - 1680, Freeman Oath- 1688, 

From : Middleborough's Historic Beginnings by Warren 
and Marion Whipple. Town of Middleboro, page 19 

The Old Burying Ground (Nemasket Hill) 

Middleberry's oldest cemetery was established in the First Pur- 
chase. It includes the graves of John Thompon and Samuel 

John Tomson, Jr , = Middlederry Fort garrison soldier- 1657=1680's, Oath as a 
freeman- 1688. Representative to the Mass General Court- 1692 

Obadiah Eddy - Highway Suryeyer- 1657-1 688+. Freeman- 1688, soldier in the 
Middleboro Fort- 1650's - ?. Constable (Middleberry)- 1679-89, selectman 
(Middledoro-)- 1690 

Ebenezer Tinkham - freeman- 1688 

April- 4. In two weeks in Feb there was 8 days of 

5, Jan-9, Feb,- 9, March- 3, 

snow equaling 42 inches. 

www.britonkill.kl blizzard.htm 

1 699-1 700= April Snow Blizzard - Snow, high wind, Rain-ice, Hail, thinder for 4 

days. Much damage. In Dec. 1 700 two severe Ice storms- tremendous damage 

regionally. * 

<"*" - from Eariv American Winters 1604-1820 . pages 16-41. > 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 46 

Ephraim Tinkham - Highway Surveyor- 1680's 

Isaac Howland - Selectman (Middleboro) - 1692. Representative to the Mass. 
General Court.- 1692 

John Soule - Highway Surveyor- 1660-90 

Isaac Fuller - MP - He_was the son of the_first pastor of the church in Middleboro, 
himself a distinguished physician and lived in the ^Fuller Neighborhood''. His 
practice often called him to distant places and he was honored by the name 
^^Montbank" saved for those who were perfect in their prescribing. He married 
Mary Eddy and their son moved to pre-Halifax. 

Thomas Sturtevant- MP - 

William Sturtevant - 

Pavid Bosworth — 

Samuel Sturtevant- Selectman (Plympton) - 1708-10, Treasurer (Plympton) 1724, 
Mass. House of Representatives 1724, ^^ 

Robert Waterman - ^^^ Became a Peacon and housed the meetings of the Halifax 
Church people before the church was organized. Owned Significant properties in 
pre-Halifax Plympton and Pembroke, some he purchased in 1712, some (1/2 of this 
transaction) he sold to his brothers locally, and some he bought in junction with 
Samuel Sturtevant *^^ There were a variety of purchases and sales of land. 

^^^ History of the Twon of Plympton, pages 19 ff. 

^^' History of the Town of Middleboro. pages 508-9. 520-1, 534-5, 542-3, 552, 560. 

'^^ The Deed of March 27, 1713, reveals a multiple tract purchase, one of which in 
"Plimpton" which became his homestead. He sold half of it shortly after but the half 
retained in the vicinity of the current-day Golf Course would be central for the place of 
the church of Halifax's pre-formation gatherings. Plymouth County Deed Book 9 pages 
400-404. He hsid owned local land "Near Monpossett" back around 1703 or earlier 
(PCR Book 10, part One, pages 506-7). This is validated by the laying out of the road by 
court order between Sturtevant and Waterman's Land, a road through Monpossett 
(upgrading the Bridgewater Path) dated February 26, 1712 in PCR Book 14, page 162. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 47 


It is clear that the land of the pre-Halifax period is synonymous with the contents of the 
"Major's Purchase" of 1 661+. This real estate forms the land on which the future Halifax 
Congregational Church will stand. The delineation of this core piece of land is not 
always clear so below are several descriptions to reference. ^^^ Modem descriptives can 
bejust as varied. 

1>- Also from the History of Hanson, Massachusetts , "The territory of Hanson consists 
largely of what is known as the "Major's Purchase", bought by Josiah Winslow and 
thirty-four others of the Indian sachem Josias Wampatuck, which was executed July 9, 
1662 . It was "Bounded by the lands of Plymouth and Duxbury on one side, and of 
Bridgewater on the other side, and extending North and South from the lands purchased 
by Capt. Thomas Southworth unto the Great Ponds at Mattakeeset, provided it include 
not the thousand acres given to my son and George Wampy about these ponds." It is 
probable that the thousand acres referred to were never bought of the aborigines, but 
gradually became occupied by the early settlers as they died or left for other parts of the 
country. The Bridgewater line mentioned in the deed ran near where the school-house on 
Beal's Hill now stands in a direct line to the west part of the "Tilden place". In April, 
1 684, " The Proprietors agreed and chose John Thomson (of Middleboro) , Nathaniel 
Thomas (of what is now Hanson), and John Soule (of Duxbury) a committee of said 
proprietors to settle the bounds of the said tract called the Major's Purchase." For this 
service they had grants of land set off, that of John Thomason being in the eastern part, 
and one of the bounds, a pitch-pine tree on the "shore of Herring pond" (now called 
Stetson's Pond), in Pembroke, is still standing." (Text Copy also found in the Plympton Public 

2> In June 1661 the Plymouth Court granted liberty to "Major Josiah Winslow and 
others the first bon) children of the jurisdiction of New Plymouth in reference unto an 
order or grant of the Court bearing date 1633 to purchase certain parcells of land for 
their accomodation: viz. a parcel next to the Massachusetts' bounds, and another parcel 
between Namassakett and Bridgewater, and to make report thereof unto the Court that 
all such may be accommodated as aforesaid" The purchase was made in 1662 from 
Josiah Wampetuck, Sachem. Mr. Aldin was fourth on the list of thosegranted land in 
what was called the "Purchade Purchase" (Purchade/Pochade/Pachage/ Purchade Neck 
on the Nemasket River near the border of Middleborough and Bridgewater) and his lot 
was bounded "with two red Oak trees mart^ed (NE WOR, 3:336). In 1669 the court 
determined that the first tract should belong to those eight who had their allotments upon 

With thanks to reference librarian Pat Kiieen at the Halifax Public Library for her 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 48 

Pochade neck and to their heirs; and the second tract to those eight plus those who had 

their allotments on the east side of Nemasket River in Captain Southworth's purchase. 


3> " The Major 's or five Man 's Purchase had been bought by Major Josiah Winslow 

firom sachem Tispequin in 1663 and consisted of a narrow tract of land on the east side of 

the Nemasket River between the upper and lower Indian Paths to Plymouth <This may 

refer to the Bridgewater Path and the Plymouth Path- author> extending to the Carver 

line (Middleboro by Weston 600) (MD, 9:145; Plymouth County LR, 4:65} ma p/biblio pembrokr.htm 

4> Several specific sub-tracts are laid out in the Inventory of Thomas Prence, Esq. of 

April, 1673. 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 49 






The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 50 

New Settlers Arrive and a Need Arises for a New Church 
Society and a New Town 

The settlers were moving into the interior of Plymouth County 
westward. In the 1690's the underpinnings of the town of Plympton 
were in place and some of the familiar families in future Halifax had 
arrived. In a list of progenitors, future members of the Halifax 
Congregational Church endeavored to be a part of the founding of the 
Plympton Congregational Church (First Church) in 1698. Sixteen of 
them were a part of this founding. ^^"^ The early industry included iron 
production. There was plenty of virgin timber to make into charcoal to 
power the furnace and the local bogs contained bog iron which can be 
smelted. The Fullers owned and operated an iron foundry on the South 
end of Fuller Street in current day Middleboro and this was burned and 
destroyed in the Indian War of 1675. It was Samuel Fuller ^^^ (Son of 
Samuel and g-son of Samuel) who took advantage of this resource and 
in 1728 opened a water-powered iron foundry in pre-Halifax, west of 
the town center and on the north side of the Bridgewater Path (that 
went from Plymouth to Kingston to Bridgewater and further west). It 
was located at the waterways at the current intersection of Old 
Plymouth and Furnace Streets and was in the vicinity of tremendous 
bog iron to be harvested and timber for use in smelting and was 
Halifax's first industry. '^^ Samuel Sturtevant was given water rights 

^^^ Isaac Cushman Rebekah Cushman 

John Waterman Anne Waterman 

Samuel Sturtevant Abagail Waterman 

Joseph King Mercy Sturtevant 

Samuel Waterman Susana Ransom 

James Bearse Sarah Bryant 

Samuel Bryant Experience Bryant 

Jonathan Bryant 
250 Years of Building Christ's Church : 1698-1948, First Congregational Church of 
Plympton (250^^ Aimiversary of Plympton, Plympton, MA, 1948) page 7 
***~An original 1801 manuscript in the Plympton Historical Society denoted 
additionally that Robert Waterman also was a part of that initial group of 1698 members. 
An original deed from King George (copy in the Halifax Church Archives) to John 
Waterman shows his land purchase of March 15, 1726 (in Plympton) and his tax bill of 
May, 1726 to the Crovm. 

^^^ Iron furnaces were large conical structures made of bricks with an arch on the front 
which the bricks can be removed from time to time. "In operation, the furnace is kept 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 5 1 

from the "Herring Brook" from the east pond. ^^^This old growth 
timber was in demand also east of them in the burgeoning shipbuilding 
industry in Kingston. ^^^ The Fuller Family's industrial anchor began to 
attract others to settle in its vicinity before the town's founding and thus 
the final cluster of early pre-Halifax settlers came to be. I will humbly 
refer to this as THE FULLER FOUNDRY CLUSTER as it drew 
people from both Hanson to the north and the Bridgewaters to the west. 
It is also of interest to note that the modern cranberry industry did not 
exist in the very early 1700's. The various and numerous bogs found 
within the future Halifax area contained wild cranberry plants, yet no 
commercial venture would arise for another century or so. Even so 
both settlers and Natives used the wild cranberry for medicine (esp. 
against Scurvy for sailors) and as a condiment for meats in cooking. ^^^ 
Initially the bogs were only profitable to the production of iron. 

full of ore, charcoal and flux, which is fed from the top. A continuous blast of hot air kept 
the fire at white heat and melts the descending mixture, at the same time driving oxygen 
from the ore which the flux (limestone or Ihne from pulverized shells) removes the 
impurities. . . . A water wheel operates the bellows by an arm on the wheel axle, making 
the airstream a continuous performance. . ." Cannonballs and Cranberries by F. H. Burrow 
(Taunton, William S. Sullwuld, 1976.) page 15. 

'^^ Water rights rurming from Monpossett Pond to Robbins Pond were given to Samuel 
Sturtevant. Gleaned from the History of Halifax by Guy S. Baker, page 85 ff 
'^^ In his historical narratives and notations. Historian Harry Brown notes the transport 
of timber down various Halifax area waterways, as well as a partially complete ship on 
the Taunton River. Old growth timber was in higher and higher demand throughout the 
1700's and on. For specifics and original source materials on the Shipbuilding industry 
in Kingston, refer to the Town Archives at the Kingston Public Library "Shipbuilding 
Industry" in the Manuscript Collection . ( The Drew Family centering in Kingston was a 
key shipbuilding family and was building small vessels since around 1713. - Major 
Bradford's Town: A history of Kingston, MA : 1726-1976 by Doris Johnson Melville 
(Kingston, Town of Kingston, 1976) page 23. Also note the lone shipbuilding industry 
in Middleboro esp in the early 1 800' s. History of the Town of Middleboro , pages 41 Iff. 
Cranberries- " Native Americans dried them and mixed them with venison and melted 
fat to make small, portable trail cakes caWcd pemmican - arguably the country's first 
convenience food, an early granola bar. They also used the berries to dye clothing and 
blankets and for a poultice so astringent it could draw infection from wounds. 
Despite their blood-red color, cranberries were considered symbols of harmony and 
peace. Some Native American religious leaders were known as Pakimintzen, or 
"Cranberry Eaters," who served the berries to consummate peace pacts at intertribal 

feasts The Indians called the cranberry sasemineash (sharp, cooling berry). But 

Pilgrims supplied its modem name. Its delicate, pale pink blossoms and stamen reminded 
them of cranes, so they dubbed it "craneberry," later shortened to cranberry " It 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 52 

The formation of the First Ecclesiastical Society or Church 
in any Colonial area has a number of prerequisites expected. There 
needed to be a church or "meetinghouse" to worship within, and which 
would be used for various town functions from law court to armory. 
There needed to be a minister and the taxed means of support of his 
activities. This may include housing and food as well as payment. The 
concurrent formation of the town worked in parallel since a town's 
formation was linked to the establishment of a church body in 
residence. The Halifax Congregational Church's formation is likewise 
no different than that. Logistically the members of the Plympton 
Congregational Church had a long way to travel to attend Sabbath 
services. Their neighbors who were part of the Middleboro First 
Church thought their travels would be better if a more local place of 
worship were available. It is likely this sentiment grew in strength 
during the first decade of the 1700's. It is also likely that some folks 
from all three groups: Plympton-Monpossett, Plympton-Middleberry, 
and the Fuller Foundry Clusters all gravitated together to create a more 
local church facility and body. In the late 1720's it is probable that 
many of these families met at the home of Robert Waterman of 
Plimpton (later Halifax) and were led by guest ministers and laity. 
Robert Waterman's home, now destroyed, was likely in the close 
vicinity of the Halifax Country Club's Main building. "^^ Being right 
off the Plymouth-Bridgewater path (106 today) gives ready access to 
those needing to gather from all three cluster vicinities. It was expected 
that the families worshipped in their home churches from time to time 
and they did go, yet I suspect they did explain their hardship to the 
leadership of both the town and the church. An additional early 
traumatizing factor was the weather. In the winters between 1700 and 
1730, there were several memorable storms.^^' Further difficulties were 

wasn't until 1816 for cranberries to be commercially grown in "cranberry yards". 1 0- 1 5/featurestorv 1 .shtml 
also see Cannonballs and Cranberries , by Fredrika A Barrows, pages 55-58. 
^^^ An 1832 Halifax Map reveals that the Waterman Family still owned the farm and the 
road that currently leads and ends at the clubhouse was noted to go to the Waterman 
Home. Additionally there were several other Waterman properties abutting and nearby to 
his. This land was bought by him from J. Moses Soul(e) of "Duxborough" for five 
pounds in cash on August 26, 1712. Plymouth County Deeds; Book 9- Pages 400-1, and 
402-3. (Copy of the deed in the Church Archives) 

I had mentioned earlier about the cold wave in 1697/8 when the Charles was frozen 
solid and 42" of snow fell. 
In 1703, As early as October (9-10) what started as a hurricane in the Caribbean hit New 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 53 

the impact of sickness. In Middleboro mainly as well as surrounding 
towns, a rampant sickness struck down many. ^^^ Members of these 
various churches could not attend and wanted to ease their ability to go 
to worship. The idea of a local church and separate town was 
fomenting at this time. Added to this was the slow growth of the 
various clusters as new families came to future Halifax to work and to 
live. A further indication of a wish for the formation of both a settled 
town and a church was the creation of a burying ground just North of 
the Plymouth-Bridgewater Path. It was a piece of land given by Samuel 
and Josiah Sturtevant in June of 1728 with 26 men from "Plimpton" 
paying to have shares in the burial ground. ^'^^ The proprietors of the 

England as a winter blizzard. Wind and snow created huge drifts and the totals were 
simply not known. 

The next year in 1 704/5 there was a long storm known as the "Frigid Storm" and high 
winds of destructiveness regionally. 

One note in particular shares of a massive snowstorm in 1 707 with totals of seven feet 
and tremendous drifts. For the most part, this time period was noted as quite cold. 
In 1717, was the "Great Snow" between February 27 and March 7 when it snowed 
heavily for 9 days straight. Boston totaled over 6 feet with drifts of well over 20 to 25 
feet in Dorchester ! Churches canceled worship for 2 weeks which was as of yet unheard 
of <Rev. Cotton Mather in his sermons described this storm as God's wrath in an 
apocalyptic way as punishment upon a sinful people. Early American Winters 1604- 
1820, page 42-45. > 

By 1 720, the cold had penetrated and stayed in New England followed by a February 
blizzard of some 16 hours of heavy snowfall covering fi-om Rhode Island to upper New 
Hampshire. Ships were blown from moorings all over E. Mass. The severe cold killed 
animals. Early American Winters, 1604-1820 , page 46. Travel would be impossible for 
some time. 

Timetable of History by Bernard Grun (Toughstone Books, 1975) and 
www.britonkill.kl blizzard.htm . 

"September 13, 1726, -"In 1726 so severe a sickness prevailed in town that more than 
four hundred and fifty persons were ill at one time for several months, and the number of 
well were not sufficient to attend to the necessities of the sick and the funeral services of 
those who have died; . . . The selectmen petitioned the General Court for relief, and the 
court the next session remitted the whole amount of the town tax. " History of the Town 
of Middleboro . page 570. 

'"'^ This is found in the Plymouth Registry of deeds, Book 23, page 78 "Burial Ground". 
The description is as follows: ""One acre and 1/4 be it more or less lying and 
being at Monponsett in the Township of Plimpton aforesaid being part of 
my ancient homestead lying to the Eastward of my now dwelling house, 
partly upon the South easterly side of the Country Road beginning at a 
stone set in the ground and from thence to extend Northerly 15 rod to a 
Black Brick marked and so down to the Pond and from thence along by 
said Pond 12 rod to a Red oak tree marked and from thence to extended 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 54 

cemetery were; Samual Sturtevant and Josiah, his son, James 
Bearse, David Boswortti, Peter Tomson, Robert Waterman, 
James Bryant, Jacob Chipman, Wiliiam Sturtevant, Jotm Cortis, 
James Sturtevant, John Briggs, Shuball Bearse, James Bearse 
Jr., John Bearse, Ignatius Loring, Sam Sturtevant Jr., Moses 
Sturtevant, tyloses Cushman, David Bosworth Jr., Jonathan 
Bosworth, Nehemiah Bosworth, John Thompson, Josiah 
Waterman, Ignatius Gushing, Benjamin Cortis, all of Plimpton. 
( Underlined names show those who were part of the founding of 
Plympton in the 1690's) They were all part of the Plympton church as 

The combination of settling in far northern Plympton, the far 
proximity to get to worship in Plympton, and the growing wish to create 
a new town was gaining strength. It was this group from Plympton 
that put this want into fruition after a number of winters estranged 
from their home church. Likely during the late 1720's a group of 
families were gathering at the home of Robert Waterman to worship 
continuously together.'"^ It may be plausible they would occasionally 
have a clergyman come and share the Lord's Supper. The homogenous 
band of families were given formal permission to worship together 
during the winter on November 1, 1731. '"^^ As this gathering solidified 
into a worshipping community there was a need for something more 
permanent and substantial. On April 19, 1732, John Bryant, Jr.,^"^^ 
signed a deed granting and transferring a parcel of Land on which the 

Southerly 18 rods to a stone set in the ground, and from thence Westerly 
12 rod to bounds first mentioned." 

^"^ It is likely Robert Waterman was in the same home for a time. His children were bom 
there between 1703 and 1729. ." Plympton Ma, Parish and Town Records, Book the 
First January 1701- March 1734 . Page 146. He was part of the origination of the town 
in 1698 so it is likelt he was there earlier (Eligible to vote along with his father, Deacon 
John W. - see page 9 of same record) . 

'"^^ " 6thly - The Tovm Voted that the inhabitants to the northward of the Meadow Brook 
(possibly Monpossett Meadow Brook in Halifax present) in Plympton aforesaid should 
have liberty for a meeting amongst them the next winter seaso n." Plympton Ma, Parish 
and Town Records, Book the First, January 1701- March 1734 . Page 76, entry dated 

Also see 
'"^^ Jonathan Bryant is noted as one of the founders of Plympton being Hsted in their 
history as one of the "First Names" . 250 Years of Building Christ's Kingdom: 1698- 
1948 (First Congregational Church of Plympton , 250^^ Anniversary Committee, 
Plympton, MA, 1949) page 7. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 55 

future church would be built.^"^^ '"^^ One added momentum may well have 
been the winter of 1732-3 as it was quite severe. ^'^^The momentum 
towards separation was beginning to accelerate. The Plympton- 
Middleberry Cluster added to the group's strength. On September 17, 
1733 the Middleboro Church (First Cong) was petitioned by a number 
of their members to upholding their assembly in the "neighborhood of 
Monponset". '^^ The names that are noted in this allowed demission 
from Middleboro were : John Drew, Isaac Tinkham, Ebenezer Fuller, 
John Fuller, Ichabod Standish, and Timothy Wood. Of course the 
reader will find these and other names listed when the Halifax church is 
founded. ''' 

^^^ Ibid - 
'"^^ The proprietors on the church deed were Ignatius Cushing (P), EbenezerFuller (M), 
Thomas Croade , James Sturtevant ( ?). Thomas Tomson (M), and James Sturtevant (P) 
with the P representing those members of the Plympton Church and M representing those 
of the Middleboro Church. Indeed the church's fouding was a joint affair of these two 
groups that had melded into a union . Historv of Halifax Massachusetts by Guy Baker. 
Also see the transcribed deed following. 

'"^^ Form Early January through February the cold and wind was intense. Boston Harbor 
was frozen solidly with thick ice and carts could travel across it to outlying areas, the 
snow was on average 4 feet deep and the winds would make tremendous drifts. Travel 
was difficult and some perished from this winter. - Earl v American Winters: 1604-1820 , 
page 47. A local meetinghouse would indeed be more of a necessity than a wish for 
those in Northern Plympton. 

^^^ The record of the solicitation is £is follows. "Sept 17, 1733. The church met and 
received ye following address, to which is recorded their answer. 
Vis: 'We the subscribers, members of ye First Church of Christ in Middleborough in 
<ready?> acknowlegement of our relation & obligation of duty to said church, do desire 
your consent & occurrence to our seeking liberty of said precinct town & ye General 
Court for to form ourselves: We ye bretheren & Neighborhood of Monpossett for ye 
upholding an assembly for our men's convenient attendance on ye publics worship and 
ordinances of ye Gospel. 

(Answer) At a meeting of ye First Church of Middleboro' ye day & year above said. Ye 
above written address was said before them. In answer to, we, ye bretheren present, 
unanimously voted oue approbation of ye application of their dear bretheren whose 
names stand hereto affixed or at least so many of ye as may have ye convenient 
allowance of ye town precinct & general court of their proceedmg, in order to set up & 
maintain ye worship of God in ye neighborhood above expressed, heartily wishing if ye 
go up from us ye's may have ye presence of God to go along with you in to important an 

affair as Christ's Kingdom & ?? <Unanimously voted, attest, Peter Thatcher, 

pastor> Church Records of the First Church of Christ in Middleborough , Oldest Record 
Book, page 28. 

Gleaned from the signatures of the Church Records of Middleborough' s Oldest 
Record Book - Ibid, page 28. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 56 


February 11, 1732 

Formation of the Land for the Halifax Congregational Church 

Received April 17, 1732 : Recorded and Examined by Joseph Cotton, 

te/fo/vd/ tJkaJi 9 (teu^ioAJua/uLs/ tAe/p/uul^oU(W/optAe/*^asf2etand/ 

aJ^o^ve>saldi/. ^^uli/a/plec>e/ ap^/t£sald/ to/ AuiAcL sd/ meeUn^ kou&e/ 04v 

ini (jAAfje>n/ o/i^ (yva^nlejcL (u^ 

<f4A^(u^<yu3unJbio/^ko4rva^^om/so4v, ^kajmo/s/^^^^juuidi/e/, *^ames/ 

Stu/UeAUUvt/, ^ijnailus/ ^^^^u&kin^, and ^(^enee^ze/i/ ^iaMca/, aU/ a(/ tAem/ 


to/ niana^ saicL (i(pii/t/, w ceAlalifv jjilec^/ o/v jjioAxi^h oJ^ ta^ beuuj/ 

UvtAe/toAAjLnsAif2/op^tUfU<uvand(^^ tAai/is/io/ 

soAj/: ^lf<>2j(jli'inln(y cub w wliiJ^ 


^oswoAiti/anelUvtAe/^llZan^fi^^ *^aooA/ 

^04ns<i4v ka/i cleate^i o^ and 1^^ la^ 

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continue/ ^esl&di^ 8 ^^^Zad to/a/wJiUe/ ^^aJk/ %iee/, fte/ie/ ma^Aed, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 57 

and 10 o^u£/L)/une/i/tantf£/a^a^o/vesm(l 


(MnJUilninn/ aJluuAjb one/ cui^ ^o/koAf^e/ 

and/ io/ kc^ iJke/ cJ^owesald/ plej^ unlo/i^'s/ 

%kamas/ %am&an/, ^ames/ ^^^^oade/, ^ames/ Stu/tteiumt/, 9fnaUus/ 

^^^^usAino/, ond^Aeneze^^iMe^andtAel^kel^s/anda^si^^ 

lihcAAd&e/ io/ aJtt tAe4w tAai/ do/ ai/ p/i£se^ 

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lo/i/tAe/u&e/a(o/vesaid, te/seAAfuuj/io/mAj/seiJ^ tAe/ ujbood/ and tlniAeA/ 

standing on/ sJ/ ^/vound &epi/i£/ and u/sa^ op tAose/ p/veclncls/ lawbl4M^ 

anA/ coAA/saiJiif/ enjmf/ ife/ sann/e/ ke/i^^ 

an^i^tanis/ onA^^nxMniAe^ianxies/ujJu^ s4nd fu/uAe/uno/te/ 

tAos/JoAn/^ti^4iii4/f/)/i/nti^s£if/and kelts/ do/ p/iomise/ and en^^a^ 

tAe^aAoAjfe/^/tantedp/ienUses/to/tAe^l^^ ????, 1111 

and 1111 axjoln/st ij^ taAAiJ^4AL claims 

del>end. ^rv vuitness/ vuJkeA/eol^ 9 koAf^ keA/e44nto/ put/ mt^ kand and 

seat tAis/ ^teAentA/ ^aAj/ of ^ehtAAjo/uj/ s4nno/ ^amUw— '^ne/ 

%kousand SeAten ^^^tund^ed and ^hinJUf/ ^^ne^ ^Luo/— 173lj 2 

< "^okn lixA^^ant/, "^v > ^%9Z^'m^^9C^ 

<%&ene.ze^'^eaJi/, >> VW?^92/ W^^ys^'W^ 

^iAjmoAAiJk - s4p/ull9J73Z 
IZec/'d - - s4p^ /9, 1732 

<'^€of24^oPtAe/^&^Ufina(/ (oundUvtAe/ ^^Kalipiiic^^&i/. ^^tckUtes/ 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


1987 VISUAL MAP of the Transcribed Deed of 1732 

Added structures such as Town Hall, Parking Lot and easement did not 


t^^V^ 1^. \Z^L, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Meetinghouse location Rob't Waterman 

From a 1734 Map of Halifax scanned from the 
History of Halifax volume by Guy S. Baker 
page 168, clarified using Adobe Photoshop 6 
software. Annotations by Rev. W. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 60 

Formation of the First Parish Church of Halifax and 
the Town of Halifax 

It is important to note that there was no town hall at this point 
and time but the creation of the town of Halifax and the creation of the 
First Parish Church ran parallel to one another given the mandate in 
New England that a town could not be created and formed unless there 
existed a church and minister. In the spring of 1732, the worshippers 
were well on the way to formatting the necessary prerequisites. It was 
time to put the pieces together and to create a new town society and 

Since the town and church were integrated in Colonial New 
England, the members of the future church body also were directly 
involved in the town as well. Some of them had been leaders within 
their former towns of Plympton and Middleboro, either within the 
church or within the town's civic duties. The mechanism and personnel 
to collect the annual taxes assessed upon each member of the town and 
to be divided between the church and the town functions for support 
and personnel. The future minister would be supported by these 
assessments as would be schoolmasters for the children. The town 
elected selectmen, tax assessors, viewers^^^, surveyors, inspectors 
(various), and others to carry out it's functions. Likewise, the church 
assumed the placement of a settled minister, choice of Deacons, 
tythingmen ^" and Treasurer. Notably to be involved in the town, one 
was assumed to be a member of the church as well. 

^^■^ These men were to assure the quality of goods sold in the commerce of the town 
^^^ This officer of the parish had several key duties involving the behavior of the people 
of the community. Their task was to visit the homes of the community and inform of all 
disorderly behavior to a justice of the peace. They had great power and were vested to 
assure that the assessments for support of the church were collected. Breeches of 
morality and church polity were uppermost for report. At worship he would expect to be 
present every Sunday to enforce good behavior vdthin the worship services. A listing of 
these breeches of conduct can be found within an Appendix of this study . 
The duties noted are set forth in the Laws of the Land: 

" All and every person and persons m> hat ever shall, on the Lord's day, carefully 
apply themselves to duties of religion and piety publicly and privately, and no 
tradesman, artificer, laborer, or other person whatever shall upon the land or 
otherwise do of exercise any labor, business, or work of their ordinary callings, nor 
engage in any game, sport, play, or recreation on the Lord's day, or any part thereof 
(works of necessity and charity only excepted) upon penalty that every person so 
offending shall forfeit five shillings. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 61 

Particular to the church was the creation of the By-Laws which 
would direct and govern the ecclesiastical body, as well as the Covenant 
and Statement of Faith which would form the Spiritual Basis of the 
body's existence and state it's directive in the light of the Gospel for 
Christ. Since both Plympton and Middleboro Churches were central 
feeds into the Halifax Church formation, the documents of these 
churches had a direct impact on the spiritual and functional framework 
of the proposed body. It is likely these covenants were crafted well in 
advance of the purchase of the property and the move to create the 
^^meeting house" while meeting in the home of Deacon Waterman and 
would have semblance to those of the parent churches. The text of our 
First church covenant is as follows: 


Is to traveller, drover, horse courser, wagoner, butcher, hitler, or any of their 
servants shall travel on that day, or any part thereof except by some adversity they 
were belated and forced to lodge in the woods, wilderness, or highways the night 
before, and in such case to travel no further than the next inn, or place of shelter, upon 
the penalty of twenty shillings. 

No vintner, innholder, or other person keeping any public house of entertainment shall 
encourage, or suffer any of the inhabitants of the respective towns where they dwell, or 
others not being strangers or lodgers in such houses to abide or remain in their houses, 
yards, orchards, or fields drinking or idly spending their time on Saturday night after the 
sun is set, or on the Lord's day, or the evening following. 

All and every justice of the peace, constable, and tithingman are required to take 
care that this act, in all the particulars thereof be duly observed, as also to restrain all 
persons from swimming in the water, and unnecessary and unseasonable walking in the 
streets or fields. " 
ADDED to in 1694: 

"They shall have the power, and it shall be their duty to carefully inspect all licensed 
houses, and to inform of all disorders or misdemeanors which they shall discover, or 
know to be committed in them, or any of them, to a justice of the peace, or sessions of the 
peace within the same county, as also of all such as shall sell by retail without license, 
and other disorders or misdemeanors committed in any such house; and in like manner 
to prevent or inform of all idle or disorderly persons, profane swearers, or cursers. 
Sabbath breakers, and the like offenaers, to the intent such offences or misdemeanors 
may he duly punished and discouraged; every of which tithingman shall be sworn before 
a justice of the peace, or at the sessions of the peace, to the faithful discharge of his 
office, which tithingmen shall have a black staff two feet in length tipped at one end with 
brass, and provided by the Selectmen at the expanse of the town ." Ancient Landmarks 
of Plymouth by William T. Davis, (Damull & Upham, Boston, 1887) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 62 

out^ sms/ and/ tne^ sins' of oms^, 

^o^'pesas^andfoi/tAe'fmcious'pteseitce'andassisi^^ ^us^ 9u^ Spkll, 
imdet^a^deea' senses of (H£^(Him^uteaAness/ and unwoiiAiness^anJ^ud^ 
confidence^of ^^{is/fmMiMaMe'accefUaUoii/, eacA^ofus^fo^om^ selves/ and ail of us/ 
faind^to^eiAe^, eniet/inUkO/not^ ^^auenanl luUn/ ^odandone/uuiA/anoiAet/ — iAal 
is/to/sa^- ^e/do/acco^dinfio/tAe/temi^andienat^o^^Ae^euet^ 




The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 63 





As is clear within the parallel comparison the Halifax Covenant 
(See this comparison in the Appendix of this study) has direct leanings 
on the previously organized, surrounding churches from whom 
members and polity were imported. The closest comparisons are drawn 
from the Plympton Church's Confession as some of the language is 
almost verbatim. 

As the church is being formed prior to the meeting house 
construction, it is clear that the town is being formed as well. Another 
document of note in the Appendix is the Town's Incorporation 
designated by the General Court on July 4, 1734. Within this is the 
clear clause that a minister and a schoolmaster need to be located and 
supported. The particular clause reads as follows: 

Scribed from the Church Records Book One, page 3-4. The transcription of both 
Articles of faith and the Covenant of the Church can be found in the Appendices. Also 
in the Appendices note the parallel comparison of the Covenants of Hanson, Middleberry, 
Plympton and Halifax's original Covenants. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 64 

" [SECT, 4.J The inhabitants of the said town ofHallifax, do within 
the space of two years from the publication of this act, settle a learned, 
orthodox minister, and provide for his honourable support amons them: 
and likewise provide a schoolmaster to instruct their youth in readins and 
writins..., '' ^^^ 

The First volley of the formation of the town happened in a 
formal request in the town meeting of Plympton on November 26, 1733. 
'^That the inhabitants of the northerly part of said town was laid before the 
town to know whether said town would vote them off a separate township 
according to the Bounds therein mentioned and it passed in the 
NEGATIVE. ** *^^ Not to be undone by the setback the "several 
residents" who went to the General Court (in Boston) to get a granting 
of separation. This time their petition was granted according to the 
"Acts and Resolves of the Providence of Massachusetts" in 1734 (likely 
July 1 Meeting). *^^ This act created the separate entity to be named 
Halifax. ^^^ The initial formative town meeting selected the officers was 
held on June 29, 1734 with Ignatius Gushing as Glerk initially. *^^ Of 

^^^ As noted from the Yesterday and Today 250*** Anniversary Book of the Town of 

Halifax, Spring, 1981. 

^^^ Plympton Town Records, as noted in The History of Halifax by Guy S. Baker, Page 


^" As noted in a citation found by Town Historian Susan J. Basille. 

Parallels Two newspaper citations dated July 8, 1734 report the actions of the Great and 

General Court of the Colony of Massachusetts "An act for erecting a new town within the 

county of Plymouth, by the Name Halifax" - Weekly Rehearsal (Boston Newspaper) 

Issue 145, page 2, and New England Weekly Journal (Boston Newspaper)"Legislative 

Acts or Legal Proceedings", Issue 378, page 2 . 

^^^ IBID, Page 23. Unfortunately the First Book of the General Court has been lost so the 

specific citation is not available, nor the names of the "several residents" who went. 

Another First Volume of "General Session of the Peace (1730-1749" (Volume 1) 

(Original in County Commissioner's Vault) has the pages missing between 1731/2 and 

1737. - Rev. W. : That being said it is highly likely the same committee that set apart 

land for Middleboro to be included in Halifax by petition was likely the same as went to 

the general court. These were : "Thomas Thompson, John Drew, John Drew. Jr., 

Ebenezer Fuller, John Fuller, John Tompson, Ephriam Thompson, Jacob Thompson, 

Francis Thompson, Ichabod Standish, Isaac Tinkham, Ebenezer Cobb, Timothy Woods, 

and Barnabas Thompson. These highly likely were the official petitioners. From 

History of Middleboro , pages 351-4. 

*^^ The Records of the Town of Halifax note the Following "/« the house of Rev 'd , 

June 29, 1 734, voted that Mr. Ignatius Gushing, one of the said inhabitants of this new 
town lately created within the county of Plymouth, be fully authorized <?as Clerk ... >. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 65 

particular note and in accordance with the mandate of the 
incorporation as well as in line with the protocol of town in Colonial 
New England, a minister needed to be sought out. Town Records show 
the choice of David Bosworth and Robert Waterman to be the 
committee to secure a minister as well as to supply the pulpit until that 
choice is made. *^^ (As ministers are discussed ongoing, please refer to 
the Roll of Ministers found in the Appendix for additional Biographical 
information and some ministerial highpoints. ) Initialy ''Mr Abiel 
Howard is to preach two Sabbaths and Mr. John Cotton, Jr., to preach 
two Sabbaths and the remaining Sabbath the committee to provide one 
they thought best." On August 29, 1734 the committee of David 
Bozworth, Isaac Tinkham, and Ebenezer Fuller were appointed to 
acquaint Mr. Keith with the fact that the town had chosen him as to 
their choice to supply the pulpit through October. Likewise the first 
sexton of the meetinghouse was James Bryant, chosen until the next 
annual meeting (March). When Mr. Keith came to lead worship the 
town would board him in the home of Robert Waterman. *^* The 

...Informe the freeholders and other qualified voters then to make choice of town 

officers to start until the town Anniversary meeting in march... " Halifax Town Records , 
Volume 1, Page 1. This choice is clarified in the Selectman's Records for June 29^, 
showing that Ignatius was chosen by the General Court of Massachusetts Colony and he 
was thus authorized to continue the proto-organization of Halifax. This was signed as 
follows "...sent up for concurrence, J. Quincy, speaker" Halifax Selectman's Record 
Book, Volume 1, Page 1, dtd. 6/3/1734. 
= Voted on July 18, 1734: 

Town Clerk - Ignatius Cushing - had been Clerk in Plympton 1727-1731 

Selectmen and Assessors- Ebenezer Fuller, Ignatius Cushing, and David Bosworth 

Constable - Francis Pomeroy 

Treasurer- Robert Waterman 

Tythingman- John Drew - refused . . . John Briggs was elected. 

Highway Surveyer- Samuel Sturtevant (had been Plympton Selectman) and Ebenezer 

Fence Viewers- Robert Waterman and Barnabas Thomson 

Hogreaves- John Bearse and Timothy Wood 

Sealer of Weights and Measures- David Bosworth 
History of Halifax . Guy S. Baker, page 24. 

This mandate was discussed seversd times within the meetings of the municipality. 
On July 23, 1 734 the committee of Bosworth and Waterman were chosen. (Halifax T. 
Records, Bk 1 , Page 2) On January 24, 1 735 it was determined that the candidate ("to be 
procured as soon as convincing") would preach four Sabbaths. (Ibid, page 3 and Page 5 

'^' Halifax Selecman's Records. Book One, Volume 1, page 3, entry dated July 25, 1734. 
In fact the committee shortly agreed to continue with supply preachers through October . 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


research had brought to the fore two men of good rapport and they 
were both sought. One was Rev. Ephraim Keith a resident of 
Bridgewater^^^ and the other was Rev. John Cotton, a current student 
finishing at Harvard University preparing for the ministry. ^^^ The vote 
was not decisive: 15 for Keith and 8 for Cotton but Keith turned down 
the offer and John Cotton was petitioned to come to be the first pastor 
of Halifax. (Illustration follows from Halifax Town Records Book One 

Mr. Keith was selected to supply the pulpit for this time, (page 4) 

^^^ . I suspect some of the members that transferred from Middleboro knew Mr. Keith and 

suggested him as a pastor. His Grandfather or Uncle, James Keith, was the first minister 

in Bridgewater, arriving from Aberdeen, Scotland, and was minister there during King 

Phillips War. This is the same Keith who pleaded successfully for the lives of King 

Phillip's wife and 9 year old son before the Plymouth court. King Phillips War: The 

history and Legacv of America's Forgotten Conflict by Crie B. Schultz and Mildred J. 

Torgas (Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT, 1999) page 126-8. 

'^^ . I suspect he had preached in the proto church building or in homes before this time. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 67 

page 6) 

He was residing in Plymouth at the time of the July IS**" vote, and was 
slated to hopefully begin August 1 in rotation with Mr. Abiel Howard.^^"* 
Mr. Cotton accepted the offer. *^^ Further review of this will be in the 
following section of the history. 

'^ On July 31, 1735, the town concurred with the church to ordain Mr. Cotton on the 
First of October next and to town pay (room and board) for the visiting ministers and 
scholars that would be in attendance. (Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 7). 
'^^ It is likely Cotton supplied the pulpit the first year during the fall as the church began 
to operate. In fact the Town Records show his invitation to supply on March 19, 1735 
and as noted ''town by almost unanimous vote decided that John Cotton preach to them 
the next Sabbath ". This vote was then recast at the end of that month on March 3 1 , to 
say 'To know if ye town would concur with ye church in the choice of Rev 'd Mr. John 
Cotton for him to take a pastoral care of the people in this town and who was chosen by 
the majority of votes and the town concurred with the church 's choice."" He was voted a 
salary of £ 100 and £ 200 for settling in the town. Ebenezer Fuller of the town and 
Thomas Tomson from the church would go jointly to Mr. Cotton and let him know of the 
town's offer. ( Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 6) Cotton did not respond 
immediately as in the spring and early Summer some negotiations were made likely 
around the issue of lack of land for his use (customary). The Compromise reached was " 
give Rev. Cotton wood as payment.. (Until land was found for the use of the ministry.) 
IBID, page 7. His answer came in a letter dated July 21,1 735" 

"To the Church and Congregation of the Town of Halifax: Dearly Beloved: 
It having pleased God in His allwise providence to incline your , hearts to make choice of me 
(who am less than the least of all saints) to take the Pastoral care and inspection over you in 
the Lord, I do (as in duty bound) in the first place acknowledge with thankfulness and 
gratitude the respect and regard you've thereby shown me, and as to the weighty call that 
you've thus offered to my consideration, after mature weighing and deliberating on the same 
and the circumstances thereof, \I've at last drawn up my fluctuating thoughts to this 
conclusion, that with reliance and ^ dependance on the God of all Grace ^tnd the giver of 
every good and perfect gift andfyith an humble sense and apprehension of my own weakness 
and insufficiency as of my self to discharge so momentous a trust, I do signify my acceptance 
of and compliance with the same, that is to say, upon condition that you will afford me an 
honorable support and maintenance according to the rules and injunctions of the Gospel and 
that (if God spare my life and health and continue me among you}) you will be duely helpful 
and assisting to me,in relation to the articles of building and settling, you doubtless yourselves 
being not insensible of the Insufficiency of what you have allowed for that end, and also that 
you will (considering that you are destitute of parsonage landfdr the use and improvement of 
the minister) supply me with firewood during my continuance as a Pastor over you* 
If the Town .should see meet to comply with the last article (as they doubtless will with the two 
first) and in consequence thereof I should settle among you, I hope &nd earnestly iritreat that 
you will .strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may come to you In the 
fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ, and that I may so behave myself and so 
faith fully dispense the mysteries of Christ s Kingdom as that I may both save my own soul and 
the souls of those that hear me. 
But if anything proposed herein or any thing else should intervene to hinder my settlement 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


In addition, On October 16, 1734, there was a meeting of an 
Ecclesiastical Council which formally created the Church of Christ in 
Halifax. In October, 1735, Deacons Samuel Sturtevant, David 
Bosworth, and Isaac Tinkham were chosen by vote . ^^^ The 
Meetinghouse was also in construction since 1733 and was completed 
when Rev. Cotton had started, at least for the most part outside. *^^ 
Early records share that the cost of construction was by subscription of 
the future members. *^ 
The First Church 
Structure was a typical 
meetinghouse format used 
throughout the New 
England region. This multi- 
use building was usually 
rectangular and one floor 
(in the earlier years) with a 
cedar shingled hip roof. It 
was post-and-beam 
framework with two or 
three windows on each side 
of the single open room. The 
door would be on the end 
and sometimes if larger 

another in the center of a long side as well. If possible stone ashlars 
would be used as the foundation and the exterior would be wooden 
clapboards, unpainted many times. The earlier churches were 
shuttered and the window panes were generally small. *^^ The inside 

illustration liy F.tliiiuiul C^Iiuk hill of First Mfclitii; House ds dfsLribftI 
liim li\ his lithor. From The llislar>' of ilaligax volume by Guy Baker. 

amon^you I hope thes;reat Shepherd of the Sheep and the God of all ^ace will provide a 
Pastor after His own heart for your supply. I rest, Brethren, your servant for Jesus sake** 
John Cotton July 21, 1 7^5. " Halifax Church Records, Book One, pages 6-7 


This was a meeting on November 3 to conclude the choices. Mr. Tinkham needed 
some time to decide. Church Records, Book One, Pages 8-9. 

1 67 ' cj 

The meetinghouse was usable at the time of the Ecclesiastical Council and the church 
formation but not completed. Likely enough was done to satisfy the criteria of the 
General Court's mandates for formation of the town, and more could be done afterwards. 
The level of excitement must have been quite high. 

^^^ Halifax Selectman's Town records , Book One page 4, show 4 men being excused 
from "paying anything for building the first meetinghouse in sd town ..." page 4 
^^^ The small panes were a way of not being taxed for glass by the British (under a certain 
size was not taxed). 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 69 

was covered in wide boards and flooring, and there was no furnace or 
stove. Later repair records show the Halifax Church was not covered 
inside with finished wails and was open to the roof boards above with 
rafters and beams completely visible.* ^^ People dressed warmly and 
some had metal foot stoves they would bring containing embers from 
home. Windows in some early churches were shuttered but not glazed 
so outside weather sometimes invaded directly. Pews were backless 
benches at first built by the pew-owner. Initial pulpits were tall and 
many times, as was the case with Halifax, a cache of arms and 
gunpowder were hidden below or within it. The pulpit of the Halifax 
meetinghouse, according to Joseph Rockwell, woodworker, "Our pulpit 
is made of Branch Mahogany of the West Indies" and was "the finest 
pulpit he has ever seen". Another note shows the pulpit was quite 
elevated as it had "14 steps" up to it.*^* If a bell was not built atop the 
meetinghouse, a hand bell would be used in it's stead. The orientation 
of the Halifax Church was similar to the successor building with the 
entrance from the Southerly side and windows on the east and west 
sides. As noted before, there were no lantern or lamps in the 
meetinghouse as a general rule for worship and meetings did not occur 
at night. A later town covenant mentioning several pew owners and the 
orientation of their pews give some solidarity to this description. The 
Halifax Church had a central aisle that began at the "great doors", a set 
of opposing double doors in the center of the south side. This aisle was 
flanked by benches (wooden) on either side and continued to the North 
side where the elevated pulpit was found. A set of stairs went up on the 
West side for use of the preacher. There were two windows on the left 
and right (East and West) walls centrally located flanked by two 
unglazed windows covered with interior shutters. These may well have 
been made of wood planking rather than the louvers later crafted and 
simply covered the window solidly. The right (East ) side was the 
women's side and the west side was for the men. There was no ceiling 
other than the roof beams and boards. On the south side would be two 
opposing stairs ascending to the Gallery used for further seating. I 

As noted in the specifics of the 1752 renovation and plastering project paid for by the 
town. ( Halifax Town Records Book One, pages 67 - 69 ) Mentioned more specifically 
later in this study. It is even possible it was shuttered and not glazed at all thus open to 
winter weather and temperatures. 

Information found in handwritten notes of historian Guy Baker, Halifax Museum, 
Susan Basilic, Historian. 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 

{n 11'; 2; 
I I t 



= ^nwT riCT 

J L 

!^:'"or:' -Arr^ 

JoSiflU C"-(yf4fV«nf 

r^O*^!-* Ct^rinMCi 

i£'(faj?c»r i/Ja-hf 

■^^/n^tJaJ '!'i}ir.^{OA 

B Gr/)rzr/ I'un 

^^b'^f'io^ l(i»^ro^\ 

A<'Mi/f\ rJ.,vJ?y^^ri 

TlioMt*,' Tc^if"^ 

H, I 

I 'I I' 


■ i I 




would estimate 9 pews on the lower part per side, and 2 or 3 in the 
Gallery per side. ^^^ 

The two diagrams illustrate from several sources the design of 
the interior of the pre-1752 Halifax Meetinghouse. 


Gleaned from a 1752 transaction in the Halifax Town Records, Volume 1. 

Selectman's Records, pages 71-73 (copy in Church Archives) 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church 



A t-.i a s .:? / f; ^-f ,' v ' 



Above illustrations are a compilation of several sources to include 
Church Records, Book 
One; Halifax Town 
Records, Book One, pages 
171-4, Pew Deed recorded 
in the Town Records, 
Book Two, page 208. 
(documents are 
reproduced and a copy of 
each is found in the 
Halifax Church Archives.) 

The illustration here 
is of the Manomet Church 
in Plymouth gives a good 
facsimile of this type of construction and what it may have looked like in 
situ. On October 16, 1734, this meetinghouse was filled with people 




^^ilJ^^^feWflkl "^ rW^MiiSll — "Clc"* 2'^^^^aS^^^B^^I 


From the "Then and Now" article found in the "vertical Files" of the Plymouth 
Public Library with the title "The Manomet Chapel" . No date or pubHcation was cited 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 72 

who had gathered to sign the Covenant and Articles of Faith. Fifty Two 
men and women signed this document this creating the new 

• 174 


"The BIdhlen^^to desired Id have their narnes aflSxed to this Cc^^ 

SatTTLielStuitevaiTt,DavidBoswQrtii,ThrtiasTo!Tison^^ IgTatJusCudiing, 

Eba^zerMo-, EbenezerCdbb, TiinothyWocxi, ThomasQoade, JohnBrig^ Isaac Tmkiiam, 
Robot Waterman , Jdm Waterrnan, James Sturtevant, Jonathan Boswotlh, James Snow, 
JdmTomson, IcMxdStardsh, Joseph Watemian, Robot Watemian, JohnFuller. (=22 Mai) 

The Sisters Are : 

AbigailTomson, Experience Bearse, Susanna Ransom, Elizabeth Sturtevant, Patience 
Bosworth, Mary Toms on, Mary Curtis, Sarah Drew, Susanna Sturtevant, Thankful 
Bearse, Mary Sturtevant, Joanna Tilson, Ruth Gushing, Abiah Bearse, Elizabeth 
Tomson, Hannah Fuller, Abija Tinkham, Elizabeth Fuller, Phoebe Standish, Mary 
King, Mehitabel Snow, Mary Cushman, Ruth Bosworth^ Mary Wood, Lydia Cobb, 
Elizabeth Drew, Mary Tomson, Martha Waterman, Patience Waterman, Lydia 
Waterman, Sarah Briggs. ( = 31 Women) 

This solemn day , October 16, 1734 reigns as the final part of the 
creation of the town and the church body. The church members had 
created and signed the Covenant and Statement of Faith; the town had 
been incorporated and the minister was on board to begin. The 
meetinghouse was standing on the tallest promontory of the town's 
landscape and the church and town personnel were chosen and 
designated. This day was set apart as a day of pray.ef and fasting for 
the church and is the watershed of our beginning. Our church's, 
story of ministry had begun here in Halifax, Massachusetts Colony. 


from the copy. - JW 

'^"^ This was taken from the Original Church Records: Book One. 

'^^ "This day was set apart by the People of Halifax as a day of Fasting and 
Prayer in order for the gathering and embodying the several members of other 
churches that reside in this Town into a 'Church State' that they might enjoy 
the privileges and ordinances of the Gospel among them, and this was 
accordingly done by the assistance of the Rev. Mr. Thatcher of Middleborough, 
Mr. Lewis of Pembroke, Mr. Leanord of Weymouth, Mr. Stacey of Kingston, 
Mr. Parker and Mr. Campbell of Plympton who together with ye messengers of 
their Churches were-present for ye more orderly carrying on-ye said Solemn 
affair". Original Church Records , Book One, page one. 

'^^ One other church shares our "birthday" date : The Congregational Church of 
Townsend, MA . A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts 
from 1620 to 1858 by Joseph S. Clark (Congregational Board of Publication, Boston, 
MA, 1858) Chapter XIII "1730-1740", page 149. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church 




TjlfL: LAi:co^3s of T^^ 




Oc^q^cr^jf: tj3^ Tfiu ::3£Lif c^a^J Si^^ta pat^t- 

k?k^1/V£tl?i^e/ 4;^ ^ri.dr of^^iL. i^^s/eC^ 


/fi^r €^/^, 



"C — Lf^ /fcf Uc C4J i >t.4f^.> 



""JLC/L^ O) 

CVQ^ die ^,ij:it.u^~ ci?i.^^T~ou^r Ma.nJf^ UnJL ^^l. - 


co'i/irfi Oi^t' Tn^a uJi^^LS 

The First Page of the Earliest Recordbook of the Halifax Congregational 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 74 





It seems the Word and British Town of Halifax were immersed in 
the Middle Age's folklore concerning what happened to John the 
Baptist once he was beheaded by Herod (Mark 6:14-29) and his head 
was '^eventually" brought to England and buried at the site of the 
Parish Church. From this legend sprang the context of a number of 
somewhat fanciful approaches to the word and name Halifax: 

1) '^The name Halifax is said to be a corruption of the old English 
words for Holy and Face, part of the local legend that the head of 
John the Baptist was buried here after his execution. The legend is 
almost certainly medieval rather than ancient, though the town^s 
coat of arms still carries an image of the Saint. Halifax Parish 
Church, parts of which go back to the 12th century, has always 
been dedicated to St John the Baptist. (The churches first organist, 
in 1765, was William Herschel , who later discovered the planet 

2) "Old English 'feax' - hair, tresses. Possibly "holy hair", referring 
to the head of John the Baptist, which is said to rest in or beneath 
the parish church dedicated to him." ^^^ 

3) And one that seems to rest outside the legend a bit: "Halifax, 
Calderdale. Halyfax c.1095. Possibly 'area of coarse grass in a nook of land'. 
Old English halh + *gefeaxe." 179 'Coarse-grass nook of land'. In the 16th 
century, the name was incorrectly interpreted as 'holy hair' from OE halig- 
feax by the antiquarian William Camden. He invented a story to go with it, 
of a young maiden who was murdered by a lustful priest when she 
refused his advances. The tree from which her head was suspended 
became a site of pilgrimage. When the tree was stripped of bark as 
relics, it was believed that the fibres beneath the bark were strands of 

the young woman's hair. 

177 - This site is all about Halifax Town, in the borough of 

Calderdale, West Yorkshire.(UK) 

^^^ The Penguin dictionary of British place names. Adrian Room. London: Penguin, 


This seems to have linguistic roots that extend further. 

^^^ A Dictionary of British Place-Names . A. D. Mills. Oxford University Press, 2003. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 75 

— Another lead- OA "halh", OE "feax" This is the earliest usage 

of the name and is centralized on inhabitants living in that certain 

4) "Holy flax field"J^' 

All of these have some merit in the derivation of our namesake 
town in England. 

5) The most plausible explanation was noted in the Transactions of 
the Halifax Antiquarian Society in 1935, within an article by H.P. 
Kendall. In effect, Kendall debunks most of the prior arguments 
and fmds the mention in the 1080 Domesday Book as false, 
concluding that the scribe simply did not write down the name of the 
town that existed. "In short there is one Berwick missing from the 
list, and that one Berwick is 'HALLIFAX' ".^^^ 

It is noted that a possible pre-Norman Conquest Church may 
have existed but within the present site, and within the early 
transactions around 1107 is first mentioned "Halyfax". This did not 
happen by immaculate conception and Kendall notes quite decidedly 
my acceptable derivation; 

"The name is obviously grounded in Old English, and my 
personal delving into the possible meaning convinced me that it had 
something to do with the land or the situation of the old settlement, and 
involved the Anglo-Saxon "Healh" meaning land in the bend of a river 
or stream, in which position the older portion of the town undoubtedly 
lies, ...I found that in the Old English "Faex" means a division of land, 
and that the author.... Gives the meaning as either the 'Sloping division 
of land' or the use of Old Norse personal name "Halli" which would 
then give "Halli's division of land" or 'Hallifaex' "*^^ 

Halifax is a town in the county of West Yorkshire, northern 
England, with a current population of about 90,000. It is well known as 
a center of England's woolen manufacture from the 15th century 

1 80 

(< >). 

The Concise Oxford Dictionary ofEnslish Place-Names. Fourth edition. Bror Oscar 
Eilert Ekwall. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960 

'*^ "Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society", April 2, 1935, page 30, 
"Domesday Book and After" by H.P. Kendall, with thanks to the Central Library, 
Northgate, Halifax, UK, :Gary Borrows, Head of Libraries. Copy in Halifax Church 

Ibid, pages 30-3 1 . This explanation would give the name potential great antiquity. 
Furthermore, in Rev. Cotton's response letter of 1735 to accept the pastoral position he 
spells the Name as "Hallifax". 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 76 

onward. It's parish Church in the city Center This huge, millstone 
grit, mediaeval building, blackened by the industry of the past, stands 
handsomely at the bottom end of town. The church you see is mainly 
15th Century, but parts of the north wall date back to the 12th 
Century. It still serves the people of Halifax, containing their 
expressions of Joy and sorrow in this bustling town. ^^^ Warley 
township, one of 23 townships in the ancient parish of Halifax, was also 
one of the biggest, stretching as far as Luddenden and what was to 
become Sowerby Bridge. The township consisted of many tiny 
settlements essentially based on the local farmsteads, places such as 
Lane End, Warley Edge, Winterburn Hill, Cliff Hill and Warley itself. 
Of particular note, Warley remained a small settlement until the 
beginning of the 18th century. Then the consolidation of the Cliff Hill 
estate into a major land holding, coupled with the establishment of the 
Congregational chapel , formed the core round which the present village 
grew... It (Halifax) was listed in the Domesday book as Werlafeslei (ca 
1000) .'°^ Photos below of the Halifax Parish Church in England . 

Literature uses the name "Halifax" amidst a beggar's Prayer 
in "The Water Poet" by Taylor around 1600, " From Hull, Hell and 
Halifax, Good Lord Deliver us" and was prayer by vagabonds. It is 
noted that Hull is avoided because beggars had little chance of getting 
anything without doing hard labor, and Halifax, because anyone 
caught stealing cloth there was beheaded without further ado. More 
precisely Halifax had what was the "Halifax Gibbet Law" since early 
times declaring whoever had a theft over a certain amount within the 
"liberty of Halifax" was executed on the Halifax Gibbet, a kind of 
antiquated guillotine. This apparatus was not used after 1650. *^^ 



With Thanks to Mrs. Pat. Koumi of the British PubHc Library of London, England, Humanities 

Reference Service, 96 Euston Road, London NWl 2DB. 

^^^ The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer C. Brewer 
<Wordsworth Editions, Ltd, Hertforshire, England, 1993> Pages 503 and 553. To quote a 
1630 notation about Halifax, England ;"At Halifax the law so sharpe deale/ that whoso 
more than thirteen pence doth steale/ they havea jyn that wondrous quick and well/ sends 
thieves all headless into heaven or hell." John Taylor (1630) 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church 





The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 78 

The Formative Years 

of Church, Town 
and Nation in Halifax- 

The 1700's 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 79 

Part A: 
The Early Years of the Church of Christ in Halifax: 

1734 - 1760 

The first three decades of the church's formal existence were 
filled with both internal excitement and a building sense of crisis from 
the events of the Colonial need for separation from England. Indeed 
the world stage had an impact on the churches and clergy in New 
England. In addition the explosive fervor of the First Great Awakening 
amongst the churches created changes in not only local church families 
but in the systems of churches and their belief systems. Halifax 
Congregational church, then seen as the First Parish, or First 
Ecclesiastical Society, was immersed in that heady mix of religious, 
cultural, political and social cross-currents. It's initial date of 
organization was October 16, 1734, when an ecclesiastical council of 
local clergy and laity gathered to share in a day of commemoration, 
prayer and fasting. On this day the Church covenant became the 
covenant of our church membership. (See Appendix for specifics of the 
covenant and Statement of Faith) Before the engagement of a settled 
pastor, there were two baptisms during 1735: Zadok Bosworth was 
Baptized by Rev. Mr. Parker, and Abagail Waterman baptized by Rev. 
Lewis of Pembroke.*^^ 

Likewise the town was working to create its roads and other 
infrastructure. The town voted to construct a "Pound and stocks at a 
town meeting ye April 28, 1735". *^^ One request of William Holmes 
who lived on the peninsula that extended south from the northern 
shores of the Monpossett Ponds, hoped that a bridge may be built so 
that he (and others) would not have to travel the entire perimeter of the 
lake North, to East, to South and then West to get to meetings. This 
first request for a bridge was October 24, 1737. *^^ Town meetings were 

'^^ Zadok Bosworth was son of Johnathan and Ruth Bosworth was our first male child, 

and Abigail Waterman, daughter of Robert (Jr.) and Martha Waterman, was our first 

female child. CR, Book one, page 1 Iff. 

'^'^ Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 7. 

"^'^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 13 ^"votedto builde a short bridge over 

Monpossett Pond for William Holmes to come to meeting. "... " ...voted that Mr. James 

Sturtevant and Mr. James Briggs and Mr. William Holmes should build said bridge for 

said Holmes to come to meeting."" Of interest is that both Sturtevant and Briggs had land 

north of the Monpossett Ponds and this bridge would aid them as well. Sadly this 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 80 

likely in people's homes until 1735 when it was noted the meetings 
began to be held in the meetinghouse itself.*^^ 

In the first decade of the existence of the church society, there 
were some fleeting attempts of coordination of the church bodies into 
meta-groups and associational groupings but this remained mostly 
informal in structure. Samuel Mather's 1738 lengthy tome on 
Congregational polity and process was duly followed by local churches 
as the one "current" source of direction for nearly the next 50-60 years. 
In it he notes "Councils should be comprised of pastors and laymen in 
equal numbers and both should have rights to speak their sentiment: 
... (page 112). As they neither preferred to nor desire any power that is 
judicial, (page 118)"*^* Local groupings of Congregational ministers 
called themselves "Associations".*^^ 

The finalization of securing a Minister was next in line for the 
church members. IN a November 4, 1734 meeting of the town there was 
debate between three men as potential settled pastors. Mr. Howard, Mr. 
Keith or Mr. Cotton. The selection would preach "on probation" for a 
designated time and it was eventually decided to give both Mr. Cotton 
and Mr. Keith a three month probationary period each with the order 

request was repeated and re-voted favorably on December 9, 1742 (HTR- Book 1, page 
32), May 18, 1743 (HTR- Bk 1, page 32, and on March 25, 1748, after ten years of 
trying, the request was then voted down and the project cancelled (for almost another 
century !) ( HTR- Bk 1, page 33), but not after some attempt was made. Records denote 
two reasons: 1> he had not secured a "way" over the land to the south of the bridge 
(owned by Sturtevants) and the construction "proved fi-uitless by reason of the difficulty 
of the place". (Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 49.) At this 
same tovm meeting the ^'town was divided into two constablewiche one east and the 
other west - by the way for Moses Standish to the meetinghouse and from the 
meetinghouse to the stone ware so called at the herring brook ~ the east part to belong 
to John Bears and the west part to belong to John Fuller. (Halifax Town Records, 
Selectman 's Records, Book One, page 1 7. 

^^^ Noted after the August 17, 1735 meeting . ( Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 
40 ff). 

^^^ Samuel Mather, Liberties of the Church in New England , Chapter VII, (Boston, 
1738), pages 112 and 118., also A Historical Sketch of Congregational Churches in 
Massachusetts fi-om 1620 to 1858 by Joseph S. Clark (Congregational Board of 
Publications, Boston, 1858) page 153. 

^^^ E-mail from Doug Sho waiter, historian, who has written extensively of the history of 
the Massachusetts Conference, notes the early Associational structure seemed to be 
informal geographically and on an as-needed basis . e-mail Dtd. 3/7/2007. Further 
referenced information can be found at : .(click 
on history) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 81 

of this decided between them. Mr. Keith was first and Mr. Cotton 
followed after. The town voted on February 17**" as follows: 34 votes for 
Mt. Keith and 20 Votes for Mr. Cotton. Thomas Thomson and David 
Bozworth were selected to inform Mr. Keith of the choice. Not noted is 
that he refused the offer. As mentioned before in the prior chapter, 
John Cotton was the eventual choice, and this final decision was as a 
result of a Town meeting on July 21, 1735. This had been preempted 
by a vote of the church at their first official meeting on January 28, 
1734/5 and again on March 19*** with an unanimous vote to now call Mr. 
Cotton and that he would now preach six Sabbaths.*^^ In this meeting 
was the discussion of pastoral choice. The decision was not clear cut 
initially in the church meeting either, at least until Rev. Ephriam Keith 
had refused the position and then the choice fell to Cotton. * A 
number of the new church body had transferred from Middleboro 
where they likely heard Rev. Keith as well as in the current supply role. 
(See the Pastoral registry and Biographs as an Appendix for further 
details on Rev. Keith and his family.) It is quite likely Cotton had 
preached while the proto-congregation met in Robert Waterman's 
Home prior to the church and town's founding. Also chosen in this 
initial meeting was a church clerk, that being David Bosworth as our 
first official church clerk. *^^ Subsequently at the April 9*** meeting 
moderator Thomas Croade led a vote to procure Rev John Cotton by a 

Original shared by the Waterman Family 

voted majority. Some members of the future church pledged money or 
house supplies to encourage Cotton to settle and be their minister. Town 
and church were now aligned to secure John Cotton as the pastor. 

'^^ Halifax Town Records, Selectman's records Volume 1, pages 5-7. 

'^"^ Church Records- Book One , page 7 - Noted was that this church meeting was in the 

home of Robert Waterman and likely because there was more to do on the meetinghouse. 

Of note was the initial vote of 1 5 for Keith and 8 for Cotton. 

'''^CR- Volume 1, page 8 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 82 

Ebenezer Fuller (Town Representative) and Thomas Tomson (Church 
Representative) went after the April 28***, 1735 meeting to confer with 
Mr. Cotton and get a response. *^^ The response letter received from 
Rev. Cotton, residing in Plymouth, is scribed in the church records: 
''%o^tAe^^€onf/iefaUo^oftAe^%oiun^(^^{alU^ spelling with 2 

"L"'S)- %eadi^ieloA^ 

choice/ of/ me/, uiho/ am/ tess/tAMvantLtea^ of/ ail tke/ saints Ui/ta^ 

and/^nsfiecilo4voAte4/i^iOu/in/tfie/*^o/uL, u do/ euivduiii^&ountlUvtAe/finsi/ place/ 



weiaAino/o^deliAe/uiUn^otvthe/sa^ne/and/i^ ^ ai/tast/d/uiuw/ 


*^od/of/aJU/ *^tace/anti/ '^^Ute/i/of/eAte/u^ ^ooA/ and/ pe/ifeci/ ^'Jfi/ and wiitv an/ ktwfiAle/ 


discAa/t^ . So/ntom^ento44S/a/Pu4si/*^ do/si^nlf4^m^€uxefU^ 

uuiA/tAe/same/, tAai/is/to/sa^, ufionconsid&uiUonuuinif044/iMjU'(^ 

kono/uiU/e/supfU)nlandniainienance/ acco^ulin^ta/iJve/tuJUs/andinJ444uUions/o^ 

'^osfiels/ and tJuUf if/ '^od/ sfia/t£/ nu^ t^e/ andkealUi/, and ooniuuM/ me/ anft/onf i^ow, 

vuuould ^ yte/uf/ kelpJfuL and a/s&isU^ of/kujuidlnq/ 

andsetilinf. ^o*i/ dc44AUeA6/ ^jou/iseJUtes/ (lein^ not insensl^^ 
vuJkaJbuowkoAte/aiJiowed/fon/iJkaJbendy and also/ tkat/ifou/uuH (consideAun^ i^ou/ a/ie/ 
de/siJUMAJbe/ol/pa/i&ona^^tandfon/ihe/u&e/andi^ S44fifil^me/ 

udtk/li/iewood/ dunln/^rMj/cxmJUnuance/a/&/w^a£ion/o^ie^tj/^ 

^ptJi£/ town/ skould see/ meet/ Ui/comjfJA^wUfi/tA^to/^ (as/tnei^douAtle&s/ 

wiM/uujJt/iJke/twuo/fiAjsJb) andut/conse^u^ V 


^od/fo^me/, ikaJb 9 mai^conie/to/i^ou/ln/tAe/fuHne&s/of/tke/Ujessiit^of/i^ 
^^^iJvujusJi, andtkaJb 9 maiy so/ ^ekoAte/ mA^seiJf' and/ so/ faijJJfuJlJ^ 

'^^Hi/U&t/S/'^?On^dom/a^iAajt/ 9 inoAy^ioUvsaAie/mAj/ownsoutandthe/soiAJis/of/ino&e/iJ^^ 

m4f/seUlenient/amonfifow 9 kofie/tke/^/ieal SkefJte/tdof/tAe/ Skeef/ondtAe/^ 
^/uice/uuJU'p/uiAdd£/a/^aslo/i/a/(le/i/hi^ ^ tesi/,^teike/ten, 

ifOwi/se/iAiani/fo^Je&us/sake/. JoAn'^^oUon/ Juhf/ZI, 1735. 

'^^ HaUfax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 8. 
^^^ CR, Book One, pages 8-9. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 83 

This beautiful letter illustrates a problem though. Again to 
review; there was no land or parsonage established for the use of the 
ministry. Normally a "ministry lot" was set aside at the planning stages 
of a township for the use of the minister but this was not the case in 
Halifax. In his letter he requests the use of firewood as a part of the 
package and his yearly salary was a set 100 pounds (money). Where 
Mr. Cotton lived in these initial years remains unknown but is likely he 
may have been boarded in the home of Robert Waterman at town 

The Town complied with this request and on August 8, 1735, 
John Cotton began officially as the first settled pastor of the Church in 
Halifax. *^^ Pledges of 
wood and supplies were 
likely given to Cotton to 
hold until such times as the 
house was built and these 
personal "notes" would be 
called for. John 
Waterman's note of 1736 is 
a good example*^^ 

The next step in the 

L^? o^-Pi ijCX V o u Tt-iiC.-^ 1 -yi — /? >i £4/t t^'v-ugU' 

9.V..'l-M^ <n«^rff' ^7>--^. 

process was to ordain their new pastor and this would involve the 
neighboring churches. The first discussion of this event came up within 
the month of his arrival on August 26, 1735 led by moderator Croade. 
In this meeting the date of October 1, 1735 was set as the date for the 
ordination. Neighboring churches were called as a voting body to 
ordain John Cotton. ^^^ These letters of invitation were signed by 
Thomas Tomson, Robert Waterman and Ebenezer Fuller. It is curious 
that Plympton was not included in this initial grouping but in a 

CR, Book One, page 1 0. On My 21 , 1 735, following a town meeting, the decision 
went on to call John Cotton. The vote was unanimous. ( There was also concurrence 
from the town agents Tomson and Fuller as to this choice. ) Halifax Town Records, 
Book One, page 7. The request for firewood was at an July 31, 1 735 meeting as noted in 
the Halifax Town Records, Volume 1, page 8-9. 

'^'^ Original shared by the Waterman Family -Copy in the Halifax Church Archives, (with 
thanks to Jo-Ann Andrews) 

^^^^^ CR, Book One, page 10. The Council was comprised of: Mr. Eells of Scituate, Mr. 
Thatcher of Middleboro. Mr. Lewis of Pembroke, Mr Stacey of Kingston, and Mr. 
Leonard of Plymouth, and these are the churches that were requested to attend and 
conform the ordination of the chosen pastor. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 84 

subsequent meeting on September 26 it was voted to extend Mr. 
Campbell of Plympton an invitation to be a part of the ordination 

The inter-church structure was quite informal and locally driven. 
There were no formalized "associations" at this time so the Halifax 
Church simply invited it's neighbors to partake in this action. Indeed 
ministers met for informal fellowship on a voluntary basis and 
gradually these groupings took on the stated task of licensing, ordaining 
and disciplining clergy but this was not universally done for another 50- 
60 years. This body in Halifax was of clergy and lay delegates to 
examine and ordain John Cotton. Notably, these ecclesiastical bodies 
could not direct, they could only suggest, advise or resolve and the 
church had to make and own the decision. The flaw of this was that 
these councils were subject to coercion and marginalization and often 
failed to solve issues they were called to mitigate or decide. Still, this 
gathering was a time of excitement and joy for church, council and 
town. ^^^ These Associational discussions continued along for some time 
but latent fear of "Presbyterianism" remained stronger. Still there were 


confusions in church polity and theology from area to area. 

On October 1, 1735, this gathering of churches and delegates 
gathered in Halifax to ordain Mr. Cotton. The first part of this event 
was that the pastoral candidate was to confirm his response to the call 
he received as well as the church to confirm the call itself. Then within 
the service, the following participants were employed: 

Rev.Mr. Eells ( Scituate) -Charge 

Mr. Thatcher (Middleboro) -Right Hand of Fellowship 

Rev. Messrs. Lewis (Pembroke) , and 

^^'CR, Book One, Page 10 

^^^ The Shaping of American Congregationalism: 1620-1957 by John Von Rohr (Pilgrim 
Press, Cleveland, OH, 1992), page 294 

History of American Congregationalism by Gaius G. Atkins and Frederick L. Flagley 
(Pilgrim Press, Boston, 1942) page 102-3, 188 

^^^ Congregationalism of the last 300 years by Henry Martin Dexter (NY, Harper 
Brothers Pub., 1 880) pages 410 and 510 .In this text it is specifically noted a tract 
available to the churches '^Proposals of Some Things to be done in our Administering 
Ecclesiastical Government; Whereby it may more effectively reach it 's End in some 
respects, than now it seems to do, vis. : the Peace, Purity and Edification of our Churches, 
etc. " (Boston, 1 732). In the introduction of this it is noted "as a good means of 
delivering the church from those confusions and disorders it has long groaned under" (pg 
V). yyebsite— http://macucc.Org/about-us/vig:nettes.htm . 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 85 

Stacey ( Kingston) -Laying on of Hands ^^'^ 
Rev. John Cotton's Ministry began that fall with Four Baptisms 
in October in scant days after ordination. <Anna Waterman and Betty 
Cushman in September, and Ruth Croade and Oilysse Gushing ^^^ > 
The church and minister also met to begin it's internal organization and 
polity/ procedures. Local churches did things differently. The 
following Agenda was laid out for a meeting on Friday, October 3V^. 

1. Choice of Deacons to officiate at the church 

2. Provide pewter for the Lord's Table 

3. Contribute money towards the cost of the sacrament (Lord's 

4. Find money to purchase a book to keep church records in. 

5. Determine the order of reception of the Lord's Supper: Position 
or otherwise. 

These matters were important so it was determined that the next 
meeting would be three days later on Monday, November 3*^^ to 
respond. The Office of Deacon was quite important and carried with 
it a great amount of prestige both within the church and socially in 
the community. It was a position that was carried for life. In Rev. 
Cotton's charge to the church in this venue they were to be people 
"agreeable to be the example of the apostles who told the number 
that should be chosen (Acts 6) thereupon the church brought their 
votes for three persons". ^^^ These three men were Samuel 
Sturtevant, Isaac Tinkham and David Bosworth. The 

Communion wares were to be solicited in another six months time 
(Spring, 1736) . The records book was to be solicited in the week to 
follow, and the proceeds from that created the book that is part of 
the church archives today. The first mention of the music to 
accompany the worship was discussed for the new church family and 
Jonathan Bosworth to "tune or set the Psalm in the Public Worship" 

^^ CR , Book One, pages 10-11. 

^"^ Anna- Daughter of Joseph and Patience Waterman, and Betty- Daughter of Moses 

and Mary Cushman were baptized on October 12**^, 1735, and Ruth- daughter of Capt. 

Thomas Croade , and Oilysse- daughter of Ignatius and Ruth Cushing were Baptized a 

week later on October 19'^. . 

^^'^ CR, Volume 1, page 12. 

IBID, page 1 2 Deacons Bosworth and Sturtevant accepted immediately but Mr. 
Tinkham was granted some time to consider the appointment. In a short time he 
accepted the position. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 86 

but this vote was conditional to agreement with the town. The 
final issue of this meeting was to have a collection in order to pay the 
Pastor's salary. These important decisions set the tone for the next 
several decades of church life. The Year 1735 concluded with the 
admission of the first non-charter member of the church family, that 
being Hannah Pummery, the wife of Francis Pummery who joined 
the fellowship on November 23. This was followed in December 
when Hannah's children were Baptized on the 14^^ and in the next 
year in February 8th. ^^^ The church family continued to grow in 
February with the admission of Abiel Leach on the 22"**. In fact 
over the next few years the church family grew quite a bit. ^^^ One 
dismission of Elizabeth Sturtevant to the Church of Plympton on 
Aug. 27, 1738. The net growth was 36 new members in those years, 
to 88 (52 charter plus additives) by 1740. This was a growth of over 
50%!! Additionally there were a large number of Baptisms in the 

^^^ IBID, page 12. 

^^^ Ibid, page 13. The children were named Abigail Pitts, Joseph and Sarah Pummery. 

And then on February 8^^, 1736, was baptized Susanna Pummery. 

^'^ CR, Book One, Pages 1 3-1 8 record a number of new members and Baptisms: 

New Members: (35 people) 

Hannah Bryant (w of Thomas) 5/30/1736 

Dorcas Bryant(w of James), Susanna Fuller (dtr of Ebenezer) - 6/27/1736 

Benjamin and Experience Curtis - 7/25/1736 

Isaac King -12/19/1736 

Joanna Tomson (w of John, Jr.) - 6/26/1737 

Anthony Waterman - 7/3 1/1737 

Anna Leach (w of Giles) - 8/28/1737 

Moses Cushman and Jonathan Sears - 10/9/1737 

Giles Leach- 12/25/1737 

John Tomson, Sr. - Samuel and Mary Waterman - 7/23/1 738 ** 

Hannah and David Curtis - 8/27/1738 ** 

Susanna Drew (w of John, Jr.) - 10/22/1738 

Hannah Simmons (w of Job) and Sarah Bosworth ( w of Nehemiah) - 1 1/12/1738 

Elizabeth May (w of Israel), Job Simmons, and Nehemiah Bosworth - 12/3/1738 

Thomas Bryant and Isaac Tinkham, Jr., - 4/1/1739 

Rebekah Simmons, Peres and Abigail Waterman - 4/22/1739 

Caleb Eddy- 6/17/1739 

Lemuel and Deborah Sturtevant - 8/22/ 1739 

Sarah Freeman (w of Jonathan) - 9/30/1 739 

Elizabeth Turner ( w of Ignatius), Sarah Sturtevant (w of Isaac) - 1 1/1 1/1739 

Sarah Bearse(w of John)- 12/2/1739 

** These folks made confessions prior to their admission into membership. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 87 

same period that were recorded in the church Records numbering 
66! ^^* Also in 1738 were the starting of various public confessions 
made on the moment of joining the church. These admissions 
continued in a variety of ways and are collected in an appendix for 
review. The Halifax Church family was also participatory of the 
mission issues of the day and sought to assist. In March of 1736, 
(3/29) a fast and thanksgiving were scheduled to create the funds to 
assist the poor in the town as distributed by the Deacons of the 
church. Also, Deacon Tinkham and Ebenezer Fuller were to help 
the children with their studies and catechism at the noontime hour 
between services. This was to continue from the start of April to the 
start of October. This is a monumental and historical choice for the 

^'' Baptisms - In 1736= Asa Bearse (s of James and Abia) - 7/4, Abiah and Mary 
Bryant (ch of Hannah and Thomas - 7/28; Caleb Curtis (s of Benjamin and Experience)- 
8/1, Sarah Leach (d of Abiel and sarah)- 9/8 

1 737= Lucy Cushing (d of Ignatius)- 2/27, Noah Bosworth (s of Jonathan and Ruth)- 
3/13, Mary Wood (d of Timothy and Mary ) - 4/3, Deborah Cushman (d or Moses and 
Mary) -7/31 , Silvanus Curtis (s of Banjamin and Experience), Joanna Waterman(d of 
Anthony ) - 8/14, Rachell Croade (d of Thomas)-8/21, <daughter> (d of Burton) at 
Pembroke-5/15, <daughter> Keen and <wife> (wife of John) in Pembroke- 9/18, Lucy 
Sturtevant (d of Josiah and Hannah)- 10/2, Hannah Pummery(d of Francis and Hannah)- 

1738= Micah, Juhn, Simson, and Elizabeth Leach (ch of Giles and Anna)-1/1, Lois 
Bearse (d or Margaret &wife of Andrew )-l/29, James Waterman (s of Robert, Jr and 
Martha)- 3/19, Joshua Waterman (s of Joseph and Patience)- 4/23, Thomas Bryant (s of 
Thomas and Hannah)-4/20, Loring Cushing (s of Ignatius and Ruth), John Dunbar (s of 
Joseph)- 5/14, Consider Bearse (s of james and Abiah)- 6/11, John Tomson, Sr -7/22, 
Ebenezer Waterman (s of Samuel and Mary)- 7/30, Sarah Waterman (d of Anthony)- 
8/27, Japhat and Jesse Curtis (s of Hannah)- 9/10, Susanna Drew (w of John)- 10/22, 
Hannah Simmons (w of Job), Sarah Bosworth (w of Nehemiah)- 11/12, Elizabeth May 
(w of Israel)- 12/3, Rachell Simmons (d or Job and Hannah), Deborah, Peter, Nehemiah, 
David, and sarah Bosworth (ch of Nehemiah and Sarah) 

1739= Huldah Cushman (d of Moses and Mary)- 5/20, Deborah Sears (d of Jonathan), 
Joanna Tomson (d of Ephriam and Joanna)- 5/27, Deborah Jackson (d of Benjamin and 
Hopestill)- 6/3, Alice Justice (d of John and Mary), Zebadiah Waterman (s of Samuel 
and Mary)- 6/17, Perez Waterman (s of Perez and Abigail) 6/24, Ichabod Bozworth (s 
of Jonathan and Ruth) - 7/15, Elizabeth Croade (d of Thomas, Esq.)- 7/22, Abiah 
Bearse (d of Austin and Hannah) - 8/19 , Desire Sturtevant ( d of Lemuel and Deborah) 
- 8/26, Hannah (d of Noah)- 9/16, Hannah Drew (d of John and Susanna) - 9/23, 
Ichabod Alden ( son of Capt.) at Duxborough - 10/7, Susanna (d of Nehemiah and 
Sarah Bozworth), Deborah, William, Martha, and Sarah Sturtevant (ch of Sarah and 
Isaac)- 11/11, Dependence ( s of Josiah and Hannah), Ezekiel Curtis (s of David and 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 88 

church . It is normal that the children be taught their catechism 
lessons but this was a directive to create a Sunday school, and it is 
the eventual genesis of the First Sunday School in the Country. ^^^ 
The first wisp of this came in a meeting of April 9, 1741, when it was 
voted :" that here should be a committee of this church to assist the 
Pastor in discoursing with the children of the church that have fallen 
into any open sin, or with other offenders as there shall be occasion, in 
order to bring them to a sight and sense of sin, and to prevent as much 
as possible all difficulties that may arise in the church relating to such 
offenses ,'*^^^^ See Appendix H for information of this early 
pioneering Colonial Educational investment. 
The selection of teachers to lead this review of catechisms was an 
annual selection. Of interest in this first decade in the use of the 
words "received into full communion" . The partaking of the Lord's 
Supper assumed the person had fully confessed and been pardoned 
(by Christ) of any transgressions performed prior to that point. The 
value and sanctity of this sacrament hinged on this act of contrition 
and it weighed heavily on the lives and actions of the faithful. As 
noted in Article 9 of the Original church Confession of Faith (see 
Appendix for the Text) noting the "elect of God" are the partakers of 
the benefits of "redemption of Christ" meaning a level of spiritual 
perfection was to be put forth. This was true for Baptism as well. A 
letter addressed to the church from the Church in Pembroke dated 
April 22, 1739, from their pastor, Rev. Lewis, refers to the confession 
of the "sin of fornication (prior to marriage)" by Hannah and Austin 

^^^ Of particular Note is this achievement. The Teaching of children was not apparent for 
another 60 years. For an excellent article see History of Plymouth, Norfolk and 
Barnstable Counties. Massachusetts by Elroy S. Thompson, Volume 1 (Lewis Historical 
Publishing Company, Inc, New York, 1928), pages 217-219. It is possible this idea of 
children's education in a "Sunday school" may be an extrapolation of his father's "Fifth 
Day Lectures" as he was a pastor in Boston and John Cotton (Jr.) took these Thursday 
teaching sessions and applied them to children. Furthermore, this choice of schooling 
capitalized on the first choice of a town Schoolmaster, Jonathan Sears on December 20, 
1736. To quote the Halifax Town Records . Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 13, 
"For three months next ensuing to teach children to read, and writtt and to give him ten 
pound for his service finding himself??? and likewise that he should keep at the school 
house at Monpossett. " (Note he was also chosen for % year the following year (pg 15, 
dtd 5/6/1737). 
^^^ CR, Book One, page 25. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 89 

Bearse and since they had made a confession before that church, 
"their child was baptized". 

Other ecclesiastical activities were part of the life of the Halifax 
Church family. On June 3, 1739, The Halifax Church was invited to 
participate in its first locally called council to assist the Church in 
Rochester on the 6***. Thomas Croade (Moderator) and Deacon 
Tinkham were sent to represent the church along with Rev. Cotton. 
The issue at hand were problems with the currently settled pastor. 
Rev. Elisha Tupper. ^*^ These locally called Councils served as 
sounding boards only and could not dictate. The outcome of this 
issue was not recorded in current records. 

The Church in Halifax was also careful of accepting folks not of 
their church "format". This is illustrated in the allowance of John 
Justice into "occasional communion at the Lord's table". The reason 
was that he was a member of the Church of England. His argument 
was that there were likely no Anglican Church bodies in this vicinity. 
In fact there were only 204 Congregational style churches in the 
whole of Massachusetts in 1740. ^^^ This first decade in the life of the 
church closed with much growth, high excitement and a zeal to 
ascend towards the perfectionism inherent in the current church 
dogma of that timeframe. This is also the time period that Robert 
Waterman was first mentioned as "Deakon Robert Waterman"^^^ 
This standard of excellence practiced in the 1730's would be ramped 
up in the 1740's as fed by a number of forces and challenges external 
and internal to the church community. 

Statistically the 1740's were as positive as the 1730's. There were 
74 new members but it is notable that this tide of new members 
went to lower levels between 1744 and 1750. ^'^ In any case this 

^"^ CR, Book One, page 18 
^'^CR, Book One, page 19 

^'^ Historical Sketch of Congregational churches in Massachusetts: 1620-1858 by Clark 

Page 152. 

^'^ Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 30, dated March 27, 


^'M 740= Joseph and Elizabeth Tomson (2/27), Sarah Tomson (4/27) 

1 741 = Hannah Tomson (w of Barnabas) - 3/29, Edward May (5/10), Hannah Ripley (w 

of Johathan)-5/3 1 , Austin and Hannah Bearse -(6/28), Hannah Sears (w of Jonathan)- 

8/30, Elizabeth Dunbar (w of Joseph) -9/27, Betty Bearese (w of Shuabel) - 1 1/22, 

Benjamin Gilbert and <wife> - 12/6 

1 742= Mary Ransom and Joseph Bozworth - 1/10, Josiah Sturtevant and Rachell 

Simmons- 1/24, Samuel Fuller, Ebenezer Fuller, Jr., Ebenezer Standish, Jr., Thomas 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 90 

further swelled the congregation's volume to a total of 174 (88 plus 
the new people) before 1750. To make this number more accurate, 
we have no statistics as to deaths during this time. There were seven 
dismissals and quite a few were censured due to disciplinary actions 
of one sort or the other. That makes the membership less than 157. 
In the same timeframe there were 155 Baptisms over this decade, 
his is all laid out in some specifics within the footnote to illustrate the 

Tomson, 4^*^, Josiah Sturtevant, Jr., Moses Inglee, Lydia Sturtevant, - 2/14, Samuel and 

Bathsheba Palmer , Eleazar Waterman, Benjamin Weston, Nathan Fuller, Mercy 

Cushing, Ruth Cushing, Simon and Ruth Clarke - 3/14 , John Waterman, Jr. and Fear 

Waterman, Priscilla Croade, Esther Soul, Elizabeth Curtis, Ignitius Cushing, Jr., 

Nathaniel Cushing, Jr., Thomas Tomson, 3^^, John Fuller, Jr., Desire Standish, Sarah 

May, Hasnnah Sturtevant, Jr., Lydia Floury - 3/28, Abagail Eddy (w of Benjamin)- 4/4, 

Hannah Cushing (w of Noah), Patience Sturtevant (w of Caleb), Haimah Tomson (w of 

Peter), Abagail Eddy, Jr., Betty Fuller, John Brigs, Jr.,- 4/18, Remember Briggs (w of 

John) , John Tilson- 4/25, Moses Standish, Jacob and Mary Tomson - 5/30, Micah 

Leach, John Leach - 6/27, Aime King, Lydia Cobb, Susaima Sturtevant, Martha 

Tomson (w of Thomas), Joanna Tomson (w of Ephriam) - 8/29, Barnabas Tomson - 

9/26, Sarah Bryant, Sarah Cushman - 10/31, Johnathan Eddy - 12/19 

1 743= Elizabeth Tomson (d of John), Rachel Cushing, Anna Chipman -2/6, Nathan 

Tinkham, Mary Fuller, Jr. - 2/28, Katherine Curtis and Deborah Bozworth - 4/17, 

Abagail Dew (w of Thomas)- 9/18, Betty Eddy - 10/23, Joel and Rachel Eddy - 10/30, 

1744= Loes Briggs (w of Barnabas) 4/15, Seth and Jane Leach - 4/29, Hopestill Jackson 

(w of Benjamin) - 8/5, 

1745= NONE 

1746= NONE 

1747 = Joseph Dunbar - 1/25, Jabez Soule - 4/19, Barnabas Briggs and Deborah Soule 

(w of James) -6/31, Ebenezer Briggs, Abiah Holmes (w of Simon) -8/23, Abigail Briggs 

(w of Ebeneezer) - 10/25 

1748= Elizabeth Bearse(w of Mial)- 10/23 

1749 = NONE 

CR- Book One, 2 1-34, 73 

^'^ Baptisms- 1740-49: 

1740= Abigail,(d of Rob't Jr and Martha) -1/6, Job, Micah, Mary, Jonas, and Mercy 

Turner (ch of Ignatius and Elizabeth)- 1/20, Jacob, Elizabeth, Betty, Joseph and John 

Tomson , Francis Pummeroy (s of Francis and Hannah) 2/27, Israel May-3/16, Ruth 

Dunbar (d of Joseph)-4/20, James Waterman(s of Anthony), Isaac Sturtevant (s of Isaac 

and Sarah) - 4/27, Zattu Cushing (s of Ignatius and Ruth) - 7/6, Lois Fuller (d of 

Ebeneezer) - 7/27, Nathaniel Tomson(s of Jacob and Mary)-8/24, Jerusha Wood (d of 

Timothy and Mary) - 8/3 1, Deborah Tomson ( d of Reuben and Mary)- 9/14, Lydia 

Waterman (d of Joseph and Patience) - 9/21, Joseph and Gideon Bearse (ch of John and 

Sarah), John, Lydia, Mary, Sarah, Deborah, Jerusha, Asa Bearse (ch of John and Sarah ) 


1741= Seth Waterman(s of Samuel and Mary)- 2/8, Mary Sturtevant (d of Lemuel and 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 91 

Deborah)- 3/15, Moses Cushman (s of Moses and Mary)- 3/22, Jonathan Sears (son of 
Jonathan)- 4/5, Abiah Wadsworth(s of Abiah)- 4/19, Edward , Rachel, Edward May, 
Abigail Waterman (d of Peres and Abigail) -5/10, Elizabeth Justice (d of John)- 5/17, 
Abigail, Rebekah, Peres, and Jonathan Ripley (ch of Jonathan and Hannah)- 7/5, Desire 
Sears (w of Edward), Noah Fuller ( d of Ebeneezer)- 7/19, Thomas Croade (s of 
Thomas), Edward, Sarah, Mercy, Betty, and Josiah Sears (ch of Edward and Desire), 
Mary Curtis (d of Benjamin) -8/2, Thomas Tomson 4^^-11/1, Noah Cushing (s of 
Noah), Susanna Jackson (d of Benjamin and Hopestill), Joseph Bozworth- 1 1/29, 
Patience Sturtevant (w of Caleb), Jabez (s of Caleb and Patience), Hannah Gilbert(d of 
Benjamin) -12/13, David Curtis(David and Hannah) - 12/27 

1742= Seth Leach(s of Seth)- 1/10, Zebulon Bearse(s of Austin) - 1/24, Lydia Flowry- 
3/7, Ruth and Mercy Clarke- 3/14, Rebekah Sturtevant(d of Caleb and Patience) -3/28, 
Andrew Tomson (s of Reuben and Mary), Barnabas Tomson (s of Barnabas and Hannah) 
- 4/4, Bathsheba, Isaac and Prince Palmer ( ch of Samuel and Bathsheba) - 4/1 8, 
Ebeneezer Standish (s of Ebenezer) ,Lydia Sturtevant(d of Francis and Mary Sarah 
Briggs (d of John), Hannah Waterman (d of Anthony) - 4/25, Hannah Tomson(d of Peter 
and Hannah), Hezekiah Bearse (s of Shubael and Betty), Simeon Sturtevant(s of Isaac 
and Sarah) Stephen Bryant (s of Thomas and Hannah) - 5/16, Ebenezer Clarke (s of 
Simon)- 6/27, Rachel Samson and Zerviah Standish, Sarah, Rebekah, Moses , and John 
Standish (ch of Moses)- 7/4, Jesse Dunbar - 8/29, 

1743= Katherine and Margaret Curtis - 1/23, Susanna Waterman (d of Deacon W.)- 2/6, 
Jesse Sturtevant (s of Lemuel), James Bozworth(s of Joseph)- 2/20, Ruth Bearse (d of 
Andrew and Margaret)- 2/28, Desire Sears (d of Edward)-3/20, Thaddeus Waterman (s of 
Peres), Elizabeth Waterman(d of John and Fear) - 3/27, William Justice (s of John and 
Mary)- 4/3, Samuel Tomson (s of Barnabas), Abner (s of Jonathan and Ripley)- 4/17, 
Kesia Bearse (d of John and Sarah), Rebekah Bearse (d of James and Abiah)- 5/1, 
Samuel Waterman (s of Samuel and Mary)- 6/26, Zaccheus Tomson (Son of John 2"^^), 
Lucy Palmer (d of Samuel and Bathshba)- 7/24, Thomas (s of Thomas and Martha)- 8/7, 
Hannah Gilbert (d of Benjamin and Rebekah) 8/14, Patience Waterman (d of Joseph)- 
8/2 1 , Sarah Croade (d of Thomas)- 9/1 8, Mary Tomson(d of Jacob and Mary), Dorothy 
Sears (d of Jonathan)- 10/9, Israel Atwood (s of Edward)-! 1/27, (at this point the 
Baptismal list is annual ) 

1 744 = Jabez Bearse, Anthony Waterman, Jr, Samuel Briggs, Jabez Tomson, Jonathan 
Curtis, Joshua Wood, John Clarke, Eleazar Cushman, Ransom Jackson, Zadock Fuller, 
Ephriam Fuller, Ephriam Briggs. 

1 745= Samuel Sturtevant, James Sturtevant, Thomas Waterman, Eli Bosworth, Samuel 
Stafford Sturtevant, Asa Tomson, Jonathan Eddy, Lemual Leach, Benjamin Gilbert, 
Thomas Drew, Jr. 

1 746= Thomas Fuller, Barnabas Briggs, Joseph Waterman, Jr., Elisha Waterman, David 
Waterman (twins), Nathaniel Waterman, Joshua Tomson 

1 747 = John Waterman 3'^'*, Thomas Cushing, Thophilus Sturtevant, Jabez Clarke, John 
Bosworth, Noah Tomson, Jacob Soule, Zadok Tomson, Peter Tomson, Jr., Isaiah 
Cushing, Josiah Cotton, Benjamin Curtis, Jr, Hezekiah Bryant, Hearsey Gilbert, 
1 748= Josiah Ford, Austin Bearse, Samuel Briggs, Jonathan Waterman, Asa Tomson, 
John Fuller, Sylvannus Curtis, Levi Leach, Jesse Fuller Sturtevant, Ephriam Tinkham, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 92 

tremendous surge in membership and baptisms that occurred in 
Halifax. This was certainly due to several factors. One central 
factor was the Great Awakening that happened in the early 1740's in 
most of New England. The arrival of the fiery and bombastic George 
Whitefield from England in 1740 began the revival atmosphere. His 
time in the Boston area commenced around a couple of weeks from 
his September 18, 1740 arrival. He subsequently preached to 
tremendous crowds of 8,000 to 32,000 on the Boston Common, 
followed only two weeks later with his protege, Gilbert Tennet. 
These two began an extended tour (separately) of New England 
lasting some three months preaching in various places wherein they 
solidly denounced formalism, directed vehemence against 
"unconverted ministers" and church members. ^^^ ^^^ Worship 
styles in response were becoming "ecstatic". Moreover the depth of 
the message was becoming less and less in deference to the impact 
sought. This atmosphere of ecstatic religion was continued well after 
the departure of Whitefield as several continued it along with 
Edwards throughout New England and the Middle Atlantic Colonies. 
The following summer another group of young men, a majority 
from Yale toured the area preaching and seeking to bring about 
revivalist fever in the area. The impact on the local churches was 
tremendous. The level of new members grew exponentially as did 
baptisms. The level of scrutiny also increased and so did the number 
of confessions and disciplinary actions meted out by the church. ( see 
listing elsewhere) . Old or young, seasoned member or newcomer 

Thomas Sturtevant, Benjamin Waterman, Levi Bearse, Ephriam Tomson, Elisha 

Waterman, Robert Waterman, 3"^^, Elkanah Eddy, 

1749 = Benjamin Eaton Jr (Kingston) , John Soule, Mial Bearse, Jr, Foord May (Bearse), 

Isaac Tomson, Ezra Drew, Benjamin Dunbar, Silvanus Leach, Nathaniel Gilbert, 

William Waterman. Josiah Holmes, David Briggs, Levi Eddy, Sylvanus Ripley, 

Samuel Sturtevant., Giles Leach. 

CR, Book One, 22-50, 37-60. 

^^" A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts from 1620 to 

1848 , by Clarke, Chapter XIII , pages 165-166. The author in review of Whitefield and 

Tennet' s visits reflects "It must be confessed that many of his strictures, especially on 

Harvard and Yale Colleges, as published in the 1^* Edition, were extravagant, and his 

estimate of the numbers of unconverted ministers was uncharitable. " pg 171. 

^^^ Jonathan Edwards preaching in Yale said "I am verily persuaded, the generality of 

preachers talk of an unknown, unfelt Christ. And the reason why Congregations have 

been so dead, is because dead men preach to them. " Religious History of the American 

People ,, Vol 1, page 351 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 93 

were all disciplined as needed. I note the increase in the severity 
of the discipline as well. The similar preaching of Jonathan 
Edwards in Northampton was another similar and more homegrown 
catalyst. ^^^ By October, Whitefield had met Edwards in Western 
Massachusetts. His theme as he traveled throughout CT and NY was 
"Dagan Falls daily before the Ark. " The result of their travels was a 
huge glut of itinerant preachers whose fire and fury whipped up the 
populace continuously. This was "awakening" New England^^"* A 
number of churches split away from parent churches or prepared for 
Edwards' Arrival. This all had a powerful impact on the onus of 
some to join the fellowship, a large number of Baptisms and 
dismissals shows us that the church had looked it it's own theology 
and was a challenge to the existent church systems. ^^^ There was 
tremendous "fever" and doctrinal issues around the Lord's Supper, 
Conversionism, regenerate church membership and views of the 
existing 1650's Halfway Covenant around Baptism, to name a few 
areas of contention. ^^^The Old Lights (supported orthodox 
positions) and New Lights (revised views on theology and followed 
Edwards) split and roiled Congregationalism in the 1740's, and 
those churches that were not directly impacted were still under 
duress to see where their membership lay in this dogmatic debate. 
There was a large increase in "councils" called to settle disputes and 
issues within neighboring churches. ^^^Even more confusing was a 

^^^ Shaping of American Congregationalism by Rohr, page 192-3, 347,. Notes 
'Worship was ecstatic, relying heavily on exhortation under the prompting of the Spirit. 
For this purpose it was felt ministerial education was of little value and exhortation by 
inspired members of the laity may be as effective. ...sermons moreover, should be 
delivered extempore, for reliance on premeditation and preparation could itself lead to a 
shifting of the Spirit. ...God's gift of new birth was understood to be more explosive and 
sudden in its coming than gradual nurture ..." 

^^^ History of American Congregationalism by Atkins and Fagley, page 114-116 
^'^^ Religious History of the American People , Vol. I, page 347, 351. 
As reviewed in the church roles. 
^ Religious History of the American People , Volume 1, page 359. The dissenters 
separated from the orthodox churches across New England in the mid 1740's... "In 
Massachusetts, where Congregationalism was established, there were over 30 (separated 
churches) founded, most of them in the Old Plymouth Colony area... "Totaling 100 new 
churches in New England". 
^^^ CR, Book One, pages 107- 11 3 

July, 1 743 - New Haven, CT - Deposed Minister Timothy Allen Called the council to 
assist in his affair about his dismissal. 
Oct. 13,1 743- First Church in Rehobeth - Issue = "moral issues and conduct of their 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 94 


November 15, 1743 -2^^* Chuch in Plympton, - Issue= dissatisfaction with their pastor on 

account of him promoting revival (1 1/30 council lasted a week and ten churches attended. 

Rev Campbell was "justified" in his promoting revival was the advice of the council.) 

May 10, 1744 - 2"^ Church in Pomfret - Issue- The Presiching and Conduct of their 


May 30, 1 744 - Church in Dorchester - Issue - Difficulties arising from the conduct of 

their minister (met 6/19). 

June 29, 1744 - 2""^ Church of Plympton- Issue (same as 1 1/15/1743)- Topic- Dismissal 

of their pastor. 

July 31,1 744 - Church of Christ in Abingdon - Issue - Dissatisfaction with their 

minister. (Coimcil found the use of false doctrines and "several dark expressions" in his 

preaching. But admonished both sides for the confrontations that had happened.) 

Aug. 24, 1744 - Church in Duxboro - Issue- Dissatisfaction with minister's preaching 

and conduct. 

Jan. 29, 1745 - First Church in Middleboro - Issue - Examination of Mr. Conant as their 

choice of a minister. 

March 20, 1745 - First Church in Middleboro- Issue- Ordination of Mr. Conant. (Rev. 

Cotton assisted with the "Laying on of Hands" and "Right Hand of Fellowship".) 

June 12, 1745 - 2"** Church of Sandwich - Issue - Dismissal of their pastor 

April 22, 1746 - Church in Hopkington - Issue - Issues between a number of church 

members and the pastor. 

June 17, 1746 - Church in Duxboro - Issue - a number of members had withdrawn from 

communion within the church. 

August 6, 1746 - Church in Dorchester - Issue- Same as in 5/30/1744 Council. 

April 13,1 747 - Church in Dorchester - Further deliberations but the delegation from 

Halifax did not sign the resulting actions . The Council had not received important and 

requested information so they refused to sign the accord. 

September 16, 1746 - 2"^* Church in Plympton - Issue - dismissal of their pastor. 

Jan 15, 1747- 1^* and 3'^'' Churches of Rehobeth - Create a union of the two churches 

March 26, 1747- Church in Easton- Issue -Installation. Met on 5/12 and found great 

issues with the theology of the candidate and suggested the church choose another. 

Aug 6, 1748 - Church of Christ in Naragansett -Issue- Issues wdth the Pastor. 

June 1 0, 1 748 - Church of Christ in Walpole - Issue- Members under Censure in the 

church wanted a hearing of their grievances. 

September 13, 1748 - 2"^ Church in Pembroke - Issue- Ordination of Pastor. The Halifax 

delegation withdrew due to issues with the procedure "I thought it duty to protest and 

withdraw, it not appearing to me anything he said or by the sermon he read to us besides, 

that he really believed these Doctrines , but rather to the contrary, and besides there was 

not the least examination as to his acquaintance with experimental religion. . ." 

September 20, 1748 - Church in Boston - Ordination and examination 

November 8, 1748- East Precinct of Attleboro - Church and Town formation. 

December 21,1 748 - Church in Abingdon - Issue- Dissatisfaction with pastor and 

several members. 

April 11, 1749 - First Ch. In Middleboro- Division of members- Controversy 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 95 

backlash of Classical Calvinism appearing in the eariy 1740's ("Old 
Calvinists") ^^^ Halifax seems to be trying to tighten it's theological 
values in the early 1740's towards a more classical Calvinism. The 
response of this and the fever of the Great Awakening was a massive 
influx of members, some of which had been in the area for some time 
and in the vicinity of the church for some time, yet did not make a 
commitment. The fear of God was laid on their hearts and they 
responded. Notably this tapered off as the decade progressed and 
some of these new folks were subject of the church disciplines. 
Another local player on the scene was Rev. Isaac Backus. In 1748 he 
arrived to pastor a "separate church" in North Middleboro, and 
worked into the mid 1750's to create a strict church environment. 
His tenure would be for nearly 50 years. ^^^The sense of God's 
retribution and wrath was likely added to with the severe weather 
that happened repeatedly in the 1740's. 

August 11,1 749- Titticut Church- Organization into a church body 

August 10, 1749 - Ch. In Abingdon - Issue - Dismissal of their pastor - 

Oct. 31, 1749- 2"^^ Church in Plymouth - Dismissal of their Pastor due to divisions and 

lack of support. 

■^^^ Sh aping of American Congregationalism by Rohr, Page 190-192. 

^^^ Isaac Backus (1724-1806) was the son of a Congregational church family in Norwich, 

CT, and was "brought to a saving knowledge of the truth" in 1741 during a local revival. 

He then formed a separate church along Strict principles, and after some time in this he 

came to N. Middleboro. His proximity to Halifax certainly added to the fervor of 

revivalism in the local community, especially those in SW Heilifax . Religious History 

of the American People , Vol 1, page 360. 

^"^^ In 1740-41 a severe snowstorm in January : 1/6 = huge snows, 1/13- winds so strong 

"people cannot stand", 1/17-18 - Extreme cold and high winds. Salt water bays were 

frozen solid : Plymouth Bay frozen solid, Narragansett bay frozen solid <sleds used from 

Newport to Providence>. There was an ice "highway" from Barnstable to New York on 

the ice. "The elements have been arm'd wdth such piercing cold and suffocating snows, as 

if God intended the air that He gave us to live and breathe in should become the 

instrument to execute his vengeance on us, for our ingratitude to his goodness, and our 

transgression of his love..." (sermon of Trinity Church (Newport, RI)on March 26, 

1 741 ). On February 8=9 and additional storm with much snow, high wind, damage to 

structures and great cold persisted. 

1747-8 Was the "winter of deep Snows". There were 30 snowstorms during this winter 

and snow was 4-5 feet deep generally. One in particular hit on December 14 with wind 

and damage to buildings area wide, and much snow. Ships were run aground throughout 

New England. 

Early American Winters: 1604-1820 , by David Ludlum, (AMS, Boston, MA, 1906) 

pages48, 52-3, 55. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Further discord in worship appeared with the music. Regular 
church discussions were recorded around the dissatisfaction of the 
singing in worship. It seems some ^'experimenting" was going on 
and objected to. In April of 1740 a vote was passed at the church 
and the town respecting this issue: 

'^whereas it appears to us that the regular way is the true old way of 
singing , and whereas some of our predecessors in this land have 
departed from this rule, and in great measure deviated from it, it is 
therefore voted both by the church and the Town of Halifax that we 
will return to the rule, that we will sing for the future in the 
congregation those tunes that are commonly sung in the land 
according to the pricked notes in our Psalm Books, and other musical 
authors, "^^^ 

There must have been regular communication about the 


-L^^v^O Vr7 yf^y^ ^,,^^ /T^;,, :</,.) ,-^.7,) yZ^4,. 

^^ i>^^/^^ '-^'^ j^"^ r^^^ /^ ■-^^'^ '"^ 

'(^-<<J Tft/rr^/-^'^ ^.^^^-c.^ '-l<-o>ji.xp i^-iumJy 

Cw^^ —^^^ A'-; \ „.C .'»'.. V.-- •.■■^^ _ 

^^' CR, Book One, page 22. A Year later on April 9, 1741, Noah Cushing was voted a 
time of thanks "for his free and generous assistance in instructing the people of this place 
in the regular way of singing. 
^^^ CR, Book One, page 25. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


need to supply the pastor with land and a home, normal for the 

settlement of a minister. Even before property was secured in March 

1, 1739, the town voted to allow £ 100 of shingles, lathe and rails to 

be given to John Cotton. ^^^ One March 2, 1743, a parcel of land 

totaling 20 Acres was purchased from George Watson, a resident of 

Plymouth, for Seventeen Pounds and nineteen shillings. (Robert 

Waterman was the agent for the church) (The previous illustration 

is from the Halifax Town Records, Book One page 45, showing the 

town's payment for this land and it's dedication to the ministry. ) It 

is located mostly on the Southerly side of the "Bridgewater Path" 

about where the Elementary School is found today. This was to be 

the wood lot and farm side of the property. There was another 

component on the Northerly side of the road that would be the 

location of 

the house. 


below) A 

succession of 

deeds show 

that the two 

pieces, joined 

in the 1743 

deed, were 

described as 

two parcels 

in the 1756 

deed when 

Rev. Cotton 

closed his ministry in Halifax and returned the land. ^^"^ 


^^^ Halifax Town Records , Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 24 and 27. The initial 
request was on February 21 , 1 738 actually and it took over a year to pass. A further 
meeting on August 21, 1740 allowed Cotton £ 5 for the time to provide himself wood 
after he come to live in his house. " 

^^'' Plymouth County Land Records- Deed book 36, page 117 (March 2, 1743) Halifax 
Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 34 notes Cpt. Thomas Croade and 
Robert Waterman were chosen to procure a wood lot of land for the ministry ..." dated 
December 20, 1742. 

PCLR - Deed Book 44, page 13 (January 2, 1756) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


The decade of the 1750's was more and more centered upon the 
difficulties with Great Britain and events of this decade such as the 
French and Indian War and the Intolerance Acts would begin to 

bring things to a 
head and 
eventually bring 
the colonies 
towards war. 
These times were 
indeed a concern 
as the 

made the 
decision to store 
the stockpiles of 
ammunition in 
the meeting- 
house, and more 
"under the 


^//*i.- .i^-..HL, ^ >-y;^ ^^ ^s--f yJ'Vr- ;|hjA|< 

"jJl ni^ 

.'»»»■<* ".,s- 

pulpit".^^^ The 
Halifax Church 
was in need of 
it's first 

renovation. The 
house was simply 
too small to fit 
everyone so in 
effect it was to be 
enlarged, the first renovation to the church structure as demanded 
by the fact that the meeting house couldn't accommodate the 
attendance. In effect in (1752) , it was to be sawed in half and 
extended by some 16 feet, making the new dimensions 58 by 40 
feet.^^^ This need was quite timely as the town, 


^^^ Halifax Town Records, Volume 1, page 30, dated August 3, 1741. 
^^^ This notation from notes by Guy Baker, Town Historian. (His dating places this 
renovation in 1757 and town records solidify the date as in 1752) Of additional interest is 
the plastering by Ebenezer Fuller using oyster shells from Wareham burned on the Green. 
Also included were two pews for "Negroes and Indians". Although none are mentioned 
in specific as to membership it is likely attendance included a smattering of both groups. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 99 

who had been meeting in the church ongoing, decided to support the 
renovation efforts in trade for declaring the meetinghouse to be the 
official meeting space for the town and to compensate the 
"proprietors" (pew holders) for this use. Informally there was an 
agreement of assistance in costs of the sexton and other repairs 
which this church agreed to as did the town.^^^ It was also decided 
to finish the interior of the expanded structure by plastering it (walls, 
ceiling, etc). This agreement illustrated just above was struck on 
May 25, 1752 with the following vote also taken; ''Voted to proceed to 
plaster the meetinghouse the next fall and to plaster overhead under 
the beams and under the galleys and also to plaster the walls ofsd 
house, " ,,, "Voted Mr. Ebenezer Fuller y Mr James Sears, Mr, Samuel 
Waterman, be a committee to provide materials and workmen and 
agree with them for plastering the meetinghouse so far as they can do it 
without paying money, " ^^* Further renovations included : 1> Seats 
shall stand "as they do now" with the center aisle four inches wider 
and the seats four inches further forward than before. 2> front doors 

There existed an Indian Church at Titicut at this time. Some Lidians were slaves in 
Halifax. See note on slavery following the Revolutionary War Soldiers Listings in the 
discussion on slavery. 

^^^ There are notes of paying the sexton's costs for sweeping the meeting house in town 
records from this period on. Both bodies now had a vested interest in the structure. Also 
since the town was also growing it is realistic that the town meetings may also have 
outstripped the size of the meeting space as well. The organizational boundary id outlined 
in the Town Records, as ^''Reserving to the present owners andposesors of the particular 
pews in sd gouse their rights and Improvement of the same and also Reserving to said 
Thomas Croade, Robert Waterman, Noah Cushmen and Ebenezer Tomson the liberty of 
making the aforesaid addition and their Right and Property therein... 

Proved also that the said town of Halifax shall at the next meeting to be held this 
day in the afternoon pass a vote to accept said house and land agreeable to this vote and 
proceed to plaister said house ..." Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 
Ipage 63-4. dtd March 23, 1752. 

^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, Page 67-68 The work was completed and the 
cost for the plastering is as follows: 

Lime and Materials - £ 1 6 6 shillings 1 1 V2 

Materials and work by S. Sturtevant - £ 35 shillings 8 

Materials and work by James Bears- £38 15 shillings 10 
<Settled on November 20, 1752> 

Plastering labor (???) < settled December 4, 175 2> 

All other accounts (???) <settled December 15, 1752> 
Halifax Town Records . Book One, pages 68-70 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 100 

to the meetinghouse should be ordered (so it had no front doors 
initially) ,3> finishing of outside work around the door, 4> the town 
should pay for two windows behind the pulpit and the "high 
window" on the east side of the pulpit. 5> church should pay for the 
repair to the "old part" of the meetinghouse. ^^^ This decade will be 
covered in two pieces since this was also the time when Rev. Cotton's 
pastorate came to a close. As far back as 1743 small and subtle 
percolations of pre-Unitarianism were appearing and grew slowly 
into the 1750's. ^^^ 

In the Political and international realm, events in the 1750's 
would happen and have a lasting impact on the churches for the 
ensuing 40 years. First of all, it seems the feverishness of the revival 
had settled a bit. There were only a few "councils " in the early 
1750's that were called. ^'*^ I would suspect the full decade of 
revivalism has made the people weary of it. Similarly the number of 
Admissions and dismissions waned a bit.^"*^ The Baptisms, although 
fewer, remained at a healthy pace. ^^^ Although the actual number 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 89. 

^"^^ Religious History of the American People by Sydney Ahlstrom, page 355. 

'^^^ April 18, 1750- Church in Duxboro- Issue Dismissal of the Pastor due to divisions in 

the town and non-payment of the salary, 

October 16, 1750- 2^^ Church in Norwich - Issue- severe divisions and resignation of 

pastor. "Wanted to call a mutual council of churches " their common being settled upon 

the principles of the Cambridge Platform ") . In this was noted "This church being 

one..." . 

June 4, 1751 - Ch. In Easton - Issue - Members aggrieved, Rev. refuses to attend 

worship in the new meetinghouse erected by the town. . . 

Aug. 12. 1 75 1- Ch in New haven, CT, - Issue- Difficulties in settling a pastor with 


April 20, 1752-2"'^ Church of Sutton - Issue - Grievances of a number of censured 


March 27, 1753 - Church in Hull - Ordination. 

CR, Book One, pages 133-4 

^"^^ There were No New Members between 1750 and 1755, Some left to move to other 


1751= Joel and Rachel Eddy (2/17) 

1752-1755- NONE on record. 

^"^^ 1750= Lucy Bearse, Lydia Fuller, Huldah Fuller, Deborah Soule, Ruth Tinkham, 

Mary Cotton, Mary Waterman, Jr., Anna Leach, 

1751= Hannah Fuller, Molly Hayward, Fear Sturtevant, Rebekah Waterman, Zillah 

Harris, Zerviah Tomson, Deborah Jackson, Lois Briggs, Abigail Drew, Joanna Tomson, 

Ruth Cushing, Priscilla Sturtevant, 

1752= Huldah Sturtevant, Abiah Bearse, Olive Tomson, Lydia Tomson, Sarah Tomson, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 01 

of disciplinary actions were less, one in particular would return to 
the life of the congregation repeatedly over the next several years 
around the actions of Captain Josiah Sturtevant which originated at 
the ordination party of Rev. Hitchcock's Ordination of October, 
1748. ^^"^ The following chronology and event table lays out the 
sequence of events: 

-May 10, 1750 - Church meeting in Halifax to examine the actions of 
Capt. Josiah Sturtevant, James Bryant, etc. but Sturtevant was 
'indisposed" at the time and could not attend. Also that James 
Bryant as "Grand Juryman" promised Capt. Sturtevant that he 
would not prosecute a complaint against Sturtevant relative to a 
"fray" that happened at Dr. Sturtevant's house and that he broke 
his promise and denies the promise and was guilty of falsehood. 
'-May 21, 1750 - Church Meeting in Halifax to continue the issue 
with Capt. Sturtevant. He was present and charges that he said "I 
swear" were proven and that Capt. Sturtevant was "disordered with 
liquor" at the ordination of Rev. Hitchcock. A third complaint was 
deferred to another meeting. 

~June 4, 1750- Church Meeting in Halifax - Sturtevant asked for 
reconsideration of the church vote about the charges against him. 
The church voted NOT to reconsider. The third charge related to 
an incident at James Keith's towards Josiah Wood the prior winter 
in Bridgewater. 1> laying hold of Wood by the collar and struggling 
with him for a while till parted by others; 2> stripping down and 

Hannah Sears, Abigail Cushman, Elizabeth Bearse, Lusanna Fuller, Joanna Waterman, 

Molly Croade, Molly Bryant, Sarah Gushing, Apphia Bearse 

1753= Eunice Briggs, Susanna Bradford, Deborah Bosworth, Betty Bearse, Sarah 

Sturtevant, Lydia Fuller, Mary Drew, Sarah Tinkham, Mercy Dunbar, Rebekah Gilbert, 

Hannah and Elizabeth Tilson (twins) 

1 754= Ruth May, Ruth Waterman, Rachel Soule, Lucy Sturtevant, Martha Fuller, Mary 

Tomson, Betty Leach, Zipporah (a Negro), 

1755= Rebekkah Jackson, Rebekah Waterman, Deborah Waterman, Sarah Stetson, 

Elizabeth Sturtevant, Sophia Cotton, Tabitha Briggs, Lusanna Atwood, Lydia Hatch, 

Priscilla Waterman. 

Totaling- 64 persons . CR, Book One, pages 60-61. 

'^'^ Capt. Josiah Sturtevant was bom in 1690 in Plymouth and Married Hannah Church (d. 

of Richard & Hannah) and had 8 children there. In 1745 he bought "Hemlock Island" in 

Halifax arriving with his pregnant wife. He bought the property from Dunbar where they 

had 3 more children beyond the one she was carrying. He died in 1774 and is buried in 

Sturtevant Cemetery in Halifax. < Notes courtesy of Paul and Anna Sturtevant in a chart 

shared with the author from their family databasO 6/28/2007. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 102 

challenging Wood . The church also rebuked James Sturtevant and 
Nehemiah Bosworth for not taking steps (as laid out in the Gospel) to 
quell the situation. James Bryant was also reproved for bringing the 
complaint to the church in an angry manner and laying it in the 
church as a rumor without personal knowledge. Nehemiah 
Bosworth and James Sturtevant made ''some acknowlegment" of 
their defectiveness in taking the Gospel steps. 
~June 11, 1750 - Church Meeting continuing the discussion of the 
Sturtevant fray. This meeting was suspended for gathering further 

~June 21, 1750- The church "lecture" being stopped, a vote was 
called with respect to the issue with respect to Capt. Sturtevant. 9 
Voted Yes he was and it is a censurable evil, 4 or 5 voted no he was 
not, and the rest (of twenty present) abstained. Also Charles 
Sturtevant was charged as well in the affair. 

^December 16, 1752- Charles Sturtevant mad a public confession , 
"with respect to the charge brought against me about James 
Sturtevant, Jr., that the affair was circumstanced ...that it was my 
duty to interpose; but as to the manner of my doing it, I have been 
sorry since I did not take another method. ...that I struck the said 
James, unless the taking sudden hold of him be called striking, but 
being sensible that I gave my passions too great a loose... (Church 
voted to restore them) 

~April 13, 1755 - Capt Josiah Sturtevant made a public Confession 
before the church, " I would acknowlege my offense and take shame 
to myself this day as far as I am sensible that I am guilty as to the 
affair at James Keith's at Bridgewater... Between Josiah Wood and 
me, the said Wood in the first place gave me great provocation; but I 
was faulty of taking so much notice of it as I did, and then laying 
hold of him and struggling with him; and afterwards challenging him 
out of doors. ... As to being disordered with liquor the evening after 
Rev. Hitchcock's ordination, I believe that I (as well as others) drank 
more than was for our profit, but am not sensible that I was 
disguised as to the evil expression 'I swear' , used by me at Jabez 
Cole's, I spake it in a sudden heat, but it is a language I don't allow 
myself in; and desire to be humbled therefore, and would beg 
forgiveness of God and man and of this Church...." The Church 
voted to restore him to communion. ^^^ 

^"^^ CR, Book One 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 103 

The French offensive into Ohio was the opening volley of the 
French and Indian War. It was the year 1753.^"*^ The offensive was 
to take control of the Great Lakes, therefore the trade in the region, 
and in time connect southwards in control of the Mississippi, thus 
boxing the English to the Atlantic Seaboard Colonies. A protracted 
War lasting into the 1760's ensued. On one hand this action of the 
French against England was another confrontation between 
countries that had fought many times and this war was an offshoot of 
the war going on in Europe, on the other, however, this was a 
continent away. It would be expensive for both sides. Eventually 
the French were set back and for the most part shut down as a major 
player in the New World in the Northern Hemisphere. Quebec and 
Florida were ceded to Britain. English New England was concerned 
at French advances into Northern Vermont, New York, into 
Pennsylvania and the Midwest. This did much to quash the 
excitement and mania of the Great Awakening fervor. In some ways 
the conflict was transformed into a religious struggle in 
eschatological and millennial terms. Congregational New England 
feared the victory of the "antichrist" papacy. They were a part of a 
cosmic struggle as well as a political one, in defense of their homes 
and the "warriors were summoned to the crusade" to aid the forces 
of "truth and righteousness". Old Lights, Old Calvinists and New 
Light churches all joined in the rhetoric. In fact there is no record of 
any pacifist churches in New England as all pulpits called for victory 
in this struggle for their lives and faith. ^"^^ Also this confrontation 
may seek to undo the New England Congregationalist mindset of 
them being "God's chosen People" and being granted "God's special 
favor and blessing." In church life faithfulness in church is 
translated towards victory as God's reward for moral and religious 
faithfulness as well as diving justice on the forces of France. In 1760, 
Ezra Stiles sermonizes the following , "God is giving this land to us 
who in virtue of the ancient covenant are the seed of Abraham." In 
effect the "righteous" had prevailed in New England. 

^''^ Timetables of History , by Bernard Grun (Toughstone Books, Simon and Schuster, 
New york, 1982) page 356. "1753", Col A. 

The Shaping of American Congregationalism , page 194-6. "Jonathan Mayhew 
(Boston) exclaims "Do I see Christianity banished for popery !!... Instead of a train of 
Christ's faithful, laborious ministers, do I behold a herd of lazy monks, and Jesuits, and 
exorcists, and inquisitors, and coweled emd uncoweled impostors ...!!!" pg 195. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 104 

The church records of the Halifax Congregational Church are 
silent around the issue or sentiments of the wartime. This drain of 
young men to fight, their Sabbath day routines being uprooted, as 
well as the impact of life as a soldier all added to the sense of 
nonchalance that also came across the churches. The neglect of 
public worship was increasing. The sentiment was that the Sunday 
worship (length of the entire event/day) was too much. Clarke notes 
'' ...few churches agreed... must be ascribed whole perhaps not 
mainly, to a decline of religious interest. The French War extended 
things nearly the whole of the period, was sufficient itself to paralyze 
the arm of Christian Enterprise." ^"^^ It began a time of people 
neglecting worship and religious duties. 

It is likely that the local events shielded the church family from 
greater notice and involvement in the Wartime propaganda and 
rhetoric. Internally the cadence of church administration and town 
administration continued as Rev. Cotton received his yearly 
allotment of wood and the upkeep of the meetinghouse was 
referenced. ^^'^ On December 11, 1755, in a meeting held in the 
meetinghouse. Rev. Cotton asked for dismissal. His health had been 
declining and he was asking for a ^^council" to be convened to do 
this. As early as August of 1755 the town voted to "get a minister to 
preach for us ye term of three months next", giving a hint of his lack 
of health. ^^^ The church gave ascent to this and voted the following : 
1> to send to form a council, 2> to send particularly to the churches 
in Plymouth (1^* ch.) , Plympton, and Bridgewater. 3> to select 
Deacon Waterman and Deacon Croade to sign the letter missive sent 
out. 4> that if any of these churches (#2) be unable, then send to First 
Ch in Bridgewater and First Church of Middleboro. 5> That the 
meeting shall be Wednesday December 24, and if the weather is in 
climate, the next day. 6> that a committee be chosen by the town to 
get a minister (Deacon Croade, Mssrs Ebenezer Fuller and John 
Waterman are to act on the church's behalf. 7> That there should be 

^^^ A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Church in Massachusetts from 1620 to 
1848 by Clarke, pages 174 and 176. 

^^^ Notably the town voted its (annual) supply of firewood for Rev. Cotton and his 
family (cut and delivered to his home) . Also the town voted on December 16, 1754 that 
""those that own pews in the meetinghouse shall be obliged to maintain the window 
against them " (their pew). Halifax Town Records Book One, page 78. 

Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Volume 1, page 81 dated August 6, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 105 

a meeting at the meeting house even if there is no pastor. Then on 
December 24, led by Moderator Nathaniel Leonard, the pastoral 
relation was severed and the tenure of Rev. John Cotton was 
concluded. He was also recommended to the Church in Plymouth 
for membership. ^^* In a lengthy meeting of the town on December 
8, 1755, the official termination and separation of Rev. Cotton from 
his duties as pastor were completed. ^^^ Rev. Cotton also deeded the 
Ministry Lands back to the Town on January 2, 1756. ^^^ 

It is likely the global events of the times receded a bit as the 
church began a search for their next pastoral leadership. Provisions 
were made to keep the church operating: 
l>Deacon Thomas Croade would be clerk during the vacancy 
2> Deacon Croade, Ebenezer Fuller and John Waterman were to be 
the committee to call church meetings and manage 'Hhe prudentials 
of the church" 
4> To call a fast on January 1 and call/ invite Rev. Leonard, Parker, 

Shaw and Conant to assist in that day. 
The committee eventually selected Mr. Miller as a potential 
candidate for the position and voted to hear him on Feb. 2"**, 1756. It 
is interesting that the moderator of that meeting was Rev. John 
Cotton. Mr. Miller was selected in a vote of 34+. 4- and 2~. If the 
town shall concur with the choice of the church, the call to settle 
would be extended. Unfortunately Mr. Miller's response was 
Negative. Several candidates were selected but all refused the 
position. ^^"^ 

We give the town and church a vote of creativity here. At come 
point the price for the ministry land was agreed and likely the town 
and church did not have the money, so they likely paid it out of 


CR, Book One, pages 122-125. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 83. 
^" Plymouth County Land Records, Deed Book 44, page 13. Rev. Cotton had already 
preempted this and the town voted ''that Mr. Jeames Barse, Mr. Moses Standish, and 
Robert Waterman shall be a committee to know Mr. Cotton 's price for his farm and the 
terms of payment. " Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 82. 
^^"^ CR, Book One, pages 126-7. The town meeting of March 8, 1756, considered Mr. 
Miller as well and voted 25+ and 10- in his favor. Halifax Town Records, Book One, 
page 85. The town voted (25 + and 10 - about Mr. Miller for him to preach for 6 weeks 
on probation. On his refusal three candidates were suggested, Mr. Solomon Reed, Mt. 
Foster and Mr. Thair and were chosen to preach 5 sabbaths each. (Meeting dated May 5, 
1 756) Pages 84-6. Of this Mr. Solomon Reed was given the call but refused. ( page 88- 
August24, 1756) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 106 

"other sources" and then In May, they voted to lease it to Joseph 
Dunbar (a name we will remember from the Revolutionary War 
Period) for income which was to go to Rev. Cotton in Plymouth over 
the next few years to pay off the residual debt. ^^^ On May 9, 1957 
the town decided to pay Mr. Cotton all he had due him, thus closing 
out this chapter as the new one was beginning. ^^^ 

On November 11, 1756, it was decided to extend William Patten 
an invitation to preach for four Sabbaths as well as the 
"Thanksgiving Day" intervening. Subsequently, he was given a call 
to settle as the pastor of the church on December 6, 1756. ^^^Patten 
was a graduate of Harvard and was one of the youngest to attend. 
John Tilson and Josiah Hathaway were to be the committee to 
communicate this choice to Mr. Patten. He agreed to this 
engagement. Then on December 6, Moderator Ebenezer Fuller 
noted that William Patten was chosen UNANIMOUSLY as their 
pastor. John Waterman and Deacon Waterman were chosen to 
communicate this choice to Patten as well as the town. At a 
subsequent meeting on January 6, 1757, Patten gave his official 
acclaim to the offer and with that in hand there was a vote to move 
towards ordination on February 2, 1757. At the celebration on 
February 2"**, Nineteen year old William Patten was ordained in 
Halifax, with 7 churches present. The participants are as follows : 
1> Rev. Mr. Balch of the First Church of Dedham (Rev Patten's 

prior church home) 
2> Rev. Perkins - Charge 
3> Rev. Porter - Right Hand of Fellowship 
4> All participated in the Laying on of Hands. 
(Church in Dedham and Bridgewater 4^'' ch could not attend due to 
weather.) ^^^ 

^^^ ''Voted to let out to Mr. Joseph Dunbar the land the town purchased of Mr. Cotton 

with the orchard and all the buildings and appurtenances except the house the said land 

be to ;etfor this day the if^ day of December next... <funds to be sent to Rev. Cotton in 

Plymouth as a stipend> " Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 87. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 92. 

^^^ See Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 88 for the stipulations of the call as well 

as the subsequent meeting to call Mr. Patten. On page 89, a vote was taken to give Rev. 

Patten the land that was leased to Mr. Dunbar and was the farm set aside for the ministry 

in Halifax.. 

^^^ CR, Book One, Pages 128-9 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 107 

The next three years, the records are peppered with clear 
organization and decisions. Of particular note is the work for the 
procurement of Communion Vessels on March 17, 1757, as well as a 
day of fasting before the sacrament, which would be assisted by Rev. 
Cotton. One notation though may refer to the distress of the times, 
as in 1758, the War was not going well for the British side. In 
specific Rev. Patten asked for a vote 

''that Thursday the tenth day of August next be solemnized as a day 
of religious humiliation, fasting and prayer to supplicate the Throne of 
Grace for the revival of dying and decaying religion and for the 
outpouring of the Divine Spirit also to humble ourselves under the 
many tokens of the Divine displeasure which this land at this day 
groans under but especially to humble ourselves for our sins which are 
the procuring cause of all our calamities and distresses,'''' Veiled in 
this is the cause and effect of the loosing battles in the War and the 
potential encroachment of the French into New England. ^^^ Rev. 
Patten's tactics were to foment a revivalistic atmosphere and both 
the proximity of the Great Awakening only a decade earlier and the 
need for staying the course as a people of faith stood strong in the 
Halifax Church. ^^^ 

The impact on Halifax was direct. In 1755 the British Soldiers 
invaded Eastern Canada and deported a number of the population, 
settling them throughout the British Colonies by force. Of this 
exodous a family of six were sent to Halifax. Specifically "Family of 
six placed in charge of Jacob Tomson who lived in the old Garrison 
house. ...These prisoners were here for six years and allowed to go 
free at the end of the French and British war."^^^ 

Also as noted before on March 1, 1758, the Ministry Lot returned 
to the Town by Rev. Cotton, was deeded to Rev. Patten. In the deed it 

CR, Book One, page 132. 


"In Eastern Massachusetts, the revival was assaulted by 'sneers, reproaches, 
unfavorable insinuations and slanderous report' . . . some churches sought to split and to 
leave. " A Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts: 1620 to 1858 . by 
Clarke, page 178. 

As noted in "Short Stories". An anthology by Harry Brown. He noted the terrible 
treatment of these people by design, "...the English King commanded the Acadians to be 
allowed to take whatever provisions and livestock they could and be moved to 
Massachusetts as prisoners. 1 ,923 were taken. Forced the men to board ship, kept in 
torturous conditions for weeks as British burned and pillaged their houses. The prisoners 
landed and were scattered from NH to GA. Most were never united with their families." 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 108 

is noted this decision happened at a town meeting on March 14, 1757. 
Notable in this is that there was only the one 6.5 acre lot included. It 
is likely the southerly parcel of land of 11 acres became part of the 
Muster Field or was sold off outright by the town perhaps to pay for 
the meetinghouse expansion and plastering or additional funds to 
send to Rev. Cotton . It is unknown why the town waited a year to 
complete the transfer to Patten unless there was decided a period of 
"probation" due to his being young. I suspect their rental of it to 
Joseph Dunbar proved to be pretty lucrative. This property is said 
to contain the house and buildings, and the description includes a 
"garden" and possibly an orchard, and all of these were on the 
NORTH of the road . This decade closes out with a larger church 
building, a joint tenant ownership of the meetinghouse with the 
town, a smaller ministry lot for the new pastor , and an ongoing 
time of war to the north and west. The town and church community 
were entering a time of uncertainty. The town did try to be 
charitable to those in need in the 1759 provision of a poor house in 
Halifax. ^^^ 

^^^ Plymouth County Land Records, Book 44, Page 241 . See also PCLR, Book 44, page 

7 for comparison of the deeds. As to the house's proximity to the road, on the deed it 

states " where my house is". 

'^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, Page 98, " voted the slectmen shall provide a work 
house for the poor if they should be occasion and let them to work. " This topic 
will be revisited several times in the 1820's to procure a poor house and poor 
farm but without success. After 1 840 it was not brought forth as a topic (Halifax 
Town Records, Book 3. 1827 - 1855) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 109 




The first three years of this decade was centered upon the 
progress of the French and Indian War with that progress becoming 
increasingly British. The War ended in 1762 and Peace of Paris was 
signed in 1763, and soon thereafter the Eastern parts of Canada, 
Florida and the Island of Granada transferred to British control. In a 
sense this war eliminated France as a World Power and as a sea power 
also. The French threat to the colonies had ended. ^^^ The French and 
Indian war as well as the Seven Years War both served to add to the 
Colonists' motivation to become independent. (More so from Virginia 
North, and particularly in New England.) It was an economic decision 
of King George III (came to the throne in 1760 ^^^) that began the 
difficulties. It was decided that the colonies should bear some of the 
cost of the French and Indian War, and so taxes were levied on certain 
goods in the Colonies. The seeds of political dissent began to accelerate 

^^^ "Frontier settlements like Deerfield and Northfield were long in peril of the French 

and Indians, but tenaciously held lonely outposts on the edge of the northern wilderness. 

Little colonization was possible in what is now Vermont until the power of New France 

was broken on the plains of Abraham" <Footnote in resource "The growth of American 

Protestant denomination is therefore tied up with the irregular expansion of the whole 

seaboard frontier. New England was contained by an indefinite Canada and New 

York. . . ." History of American Congregationalism , by Atkins and Flagley, page 95, and 

note 6. 

^^^ When King George II dies on October 25, 1 760, it is likely every church bell in the 

colonies was rung, including that of the Halifax Church. Remarkable High Tories: 

Supporters of King and Parliament, page 90. 

Timetables of History , by Bernard Grun, page 351-2 There were several themes of 

change that covered this period of 1750's into 1780: 

l>Theme 1 = Period of tremendous "distraction, disruption and decline", <due to Pre- 

War stress and tumult> 

2> Theme 2 = Political crisis extending from Stamp Act to Jefferson's (Enlightenment) 

philosophy and secularized thought. 

3> Theme 3 = Political views gained priority and thus legal values more center stage 

than religion - 

4> Theme 4 = Many churches reconstituted themselves and changed significantly 

5> Theme 5 = Adjustment to church-state relationships brought about a new 

"denominational" value of all religious views. 

Religious History of the American People by Sydney Ahlstrom, page 442. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 10 

and the arena of New England was a perfect crucible for the fires of 
revolution. To quote "The debates about ecclesiastical policy, elders, 
parsons, associations and synods, which now seem inconsequential, were 
far more that a dress rehearsal for the Declaration of Independence, the 
Revolutionary War, and constitutional conventions. For these 
contestants fought their little battles with heavy guns. " ^^^ The 
churches were rapidly getting on board with this ideal of independence. 
In 1760 there were 262 "congregationar churches in Massachusetts. ^^ 

Furthermore there were sermons preached on "muster days" , 
"Thanksgiving" and other special days. Most of this sermonizing has 
the characteristic of legalistic and political overtures denoting God as 
sovereign and supreme in all affairs to the point of being inviolable. 
This rhetoric sought to manage public opinion and assuage views that 
ran counter to the dislike of the "nuisance taxes", and eventually the act 
of rebellion itself. ^^^ 

"No clerical group. Before or since, had more opportunity for 
influencing public opinion upon the entire conduct of the common life of 

the colonies their theology was legalistic. God was sovereign and 

His laws should be supreme in all affairs, sacred and inviolable. ...God 
and Man are bound together by a covenant relative of mutual rights 
and duties... "^^^ The fact that the clergy were the "scholarly men" of 
their community gave them a position of wisdom. Of the 271 clergy in 
Massachusetts Congregational Churches in 1776, all but three were 
college graduates. ^^^ 

By the mid-1 700's there were growing tensions between the 
Colonies and Britain. ^^^ The Excise Tax, the Stamp Act and other 

History pf American Congregationalism , page 115. 


^^^ Historical sketch of the Congregational Churches from 1620 to 1848 , by Clarke, 

1858, By 1770 there were 294, plus 1 1 Episcopal, 16 Baptist and 18 Quaker. , Pages 

191 and 193. 

^^^ Ibid, page 116. 

^^^ Histon^ of American Congregationalism by Atkins and Fagley. , page 1 1 6 

^^^ Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts, year=1877, "Historical 

Survey of Churches, 1776-1876" by Rev Increase N.Tarbox,DD., Page 31 

194 were graduates of Harvard, 62 from Yale, 1 1 from Princeton, 1 from Dartmouth and 

three were not college grads. 

^^^ Of note the contrast in Political sermons in this 10 years span of 1760-1770. In 

election and other sermons the clergy in New England generally thundered against King 

Louis and his slaves "Liberty, propert\' and happiness were all at stake. 'Better die than 

to be enslaved', was a well used axiom in sermons and rhetoric. Churches were recruiting 

stations against any invasion of liberty." History of Congregationalism , page 1 19-120. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 11 

rather inept Parliamentary attempts to tax the colonists was the tinder 
and spark for the explosion. In essence these "set the pulpits on fire" 
and it was a fire that could not, once ignited, be put out. ^^^ These taxes 
created further protests as an infringement of liberty and served to jell 
the colonists under the ideal of liberty. On October 28,1767, in a 
Boston town meeting there was drawn up a list of British Goods, mainly 
luxury items, which were to be boycotted after December 31. the 
purpose was to achieve a repeal of the Townsend duties.^^"* 

The chief Tory sentiment was among the "wealthier Quakers, 
older Lutheran clergy, and pacifistic German sects, as well as Anglican 
laity and clergy". The 1760's generally were an ongoing shift towards 
loyalism across the spectrum of religious bodies . ^^^ In general the 
piety of the churches was waning and being replaced by the political 
sentiment. ^^^ By the mid 1770's this number of churches had risen to 

^'^ The list of "taxes" imposed is formidable to include : The Stamp Act, the Sugar Act, 
Revenue Act, The Custom's Collecting Act, and Tea Act to name a few. There was 
also the "Declaratory Act" which asserted the supremacy of the British Parliament in 
making laws for colonial possessions. The Shaping of American Congregationalism , by 
Von Rohr, page 199-200. On March 22, 1765, Parliament passed the Stamp Act to 
become law in America on November 1 . This declared a tax "upon every paper, 
commonly called a pamphlet, upon every newspaper. . ., every advertisement, to be 
contained in every gazette, newspaper or other paper,. . . .It taxed almanacs with a tax on 
each printed item based on the number of pages." Each colony was to have a Stamp 
Official, appointed by Britain, to oversee the sale, distribution and use of stamps." 
Debating Issues in Colonial Newspapers : Primary Documents on the Events of the 
Period by David A. Copeland, (Greenwood Press, Londonb2000), page 1 05 The Tea Act 
spumed revolts. The well known Boston "Tea Party" of December, 1773. There were 
actually town "tea parties". The lesser know one was in Edenton, NC on October 25, 
1 773 when the Edenton Ladies Patriotic Guild made the promise "Ye Ladys will not 
promote ye wear of any manufacture of England until such times that all acts which tend 
to enslave our native country be repealed." (page 316-7) 

^^"^ Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Massachusetts , by Robert 
Vexler, ed, page 11. 
■ Religious History of the American People , Vol. I, page 440. 
" We are prepared to expect, not only a suspension of Zion's grov^h, but an eclipse of 
her former glory, - a decay of piety in these lately revivalist churches." Historical sketch 
of the Congregational Churches from 1620 to 1848 , by Clarke, 1858, Chapter XIV 
" 1 750- 1 760", page 1 86. " . . . that there had been a falling off from the strictness which 
characterized the first settlers of New England. ... As compared to "our day (eg 1858)" 
the moral sentiment of that age was of lofty tone. Moral Christians , both public and 
privately, was of firmer texture, more fibrous, tougher to bear sudden storms, . . ." , 
Chapter XV "1760-1770" Page 194. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 12 

316 in Massachusetts. ^^^ The rise of Unitarian and Baptist Churches 
created both defections and splits within churches. "Between 1767 and 
1776 several churches in SE Massachusetts left the Congregational Fold 
and either became Baptist or Unitarian. (Included in this were 
churches in Freetown, Hull and Plymouth) . Furthermore, the 
dogmatic view of the formation of a church and hiring of clergy at the 
origination/ formation of a town was beginning to change. As Clarke 
notes " the reader... must have noted a gradual departure from the old 
way of church extension... It was now becoming a custom for the new 
comers, who might or might not be the original purchasers... to defer 
the meetinghouse-construction question till the plantation was 
incorporated into a town... (5-10, 20 years later) " Irrespective of the 


mention in the original town warrant. 

In 1765, Halifax had a population of 556 people. ^^^ Most of 
these people were clustered around the various business centers and 
prior groupings of families mentioned (see Section 2 of this study). The 
area around the Meetinghouse and town center was also growing as a 
settlement area of its own right. The meetinghouse was in need of repair 
in 1764 and the town voted to "repair the meetinghouse this summer 
coming", and voted that Capt. Samuel Sturtevant, Jun., and Ebenezer 
Tomson should be the committee to repair the meetinghouse and voted 
"to have latches to each door of the meetinghouse ". ^^ The support of 
the "ministry School" also was part of the town's support and in 1765, 
£130 was to support the Sunday School. In 1766, this support amount 
rose to £160. ^^^ 

Rev. Patten seemed to be frustrated with the church and with the 
general laxity that pervaded the people of the community. In 1761, 
while the War was still going on, he instituted a day of Fasting and 
religious humiliation to promote a revival of the religion. There also 
remains a sense here that the laxness of the community of faith was tied 
directly to the process of the war's success or failure. ^^^ This must 

^^^ IBID, page 202. 

^^^ IBID, page 202. 

^^^ Vital records of the Town of Halifax. MA to the end of the Year 1849 . by George E. 

Brown, transcriber, <Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants, Boston, 1905> 

^^^ HaHfax Town Records, Book One, page 112. 

^^^ IBID, page 115 (May 30, 1765). And page 118 (5/26/1766). 

^^^ CR, Book One, page, 133." May 17, 1761, the Church being stopped after meeting, 

voted that Thursday the 28* instant be kept as a day of religious humiliation, fasting, and 

prayer to humble ourselves under the hand of Providence in the sickness and mortalit>' 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 13 

have also been a challenging time for this minister as there is a hint of 
trial in the Town Records. The town specifically voted ''not to assist Mr, 
Patten in Prosecuting one person that has injured his name or character '\ 
^*^ Rev. Patten petitioned the town to be dismissed as pastor at a 
meeting on February 3, 1766, after asking the same from the church 
(date ??) but both bodies denied his request jointly. ^^"^This sentiment 
continued until Rev. Patten's decision to again formally dissolve the 
pastoral relationship on June 22, 1766. This request was refused. 
Indeed the unrest due to the British taxes were clearly a factor as Rev. 
Patten, in one of his sermons given at the occasion of the repeal of the 
Stamp Act in the Fall of 1766 on Thanksgiving day, lambasted the 
oppression of the people as much as the people's laxness about their 
faith. ^^^ A month later Rev. Patten again asked but this time to form a 
"council" of local churches to give some further deliberation to the 
matter. ^^^ This council met on August 6**^ and was reported at a 
subsequent meeting of the church on August 14^**. The dismission was to 

that prevails in this town to ask the removal of this judgment and to intreat for the revival 
of religion and the outpouring of the divine Spirit." The sentiment parallels that of the 
entire region. Globally looking at the entire timeframe of 1 750 to 1 790, it was a 'time of 
signal and melancholy declension. The public mind was engrossed by the French War, 
by the causes, progress and results of the Revolutionary struggle, and by the 
establishment of a new form of government. " Historical Survey of Churches 1776 and 
1876 " , by Rev. Increase N. Tarbox, DD, , published in the 1877 "Yearbook" of the 
Congregational churches of Massachusetts, page 34. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Selectman's Records, Book One, page 106 dated Aprill 23, 

'^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 115, "Voted to concur with the church vote in 
NOT dismissing Mr. William Patten from his pastoral office". In the same meeting it 
was also offered (but not passed) that ' to clear and excuse all persons of this town with 
their estates that are uneasy with Mr. Patten from paying rates or being rated towards 
the support of the Rev 'd Mr. William Patten during the time of his ministry amongst us 
they entering their names with the town clerk within ten days from this day and the place 
they chose to go to..." 

Also " ...put to vote that we are free and willing that Rev. Wm. Patten should be 
dismissed from his pastoral office upon such town meeting to his settlement as shall 
appear.... And reasonable unto a committee mutually chosen by Mr. Patten and the town 
for that purpose.... "<I9-, J4+> 

Digitized copy of the original in the Halifax Congregational Church Archives. 

CR, Book One, page 134, "July 31, 1766: The church being met, the following voted 
were passed: . . .whether the Church will choose a committee to join with the Pastor in 
representing a council to be convened at his desire on August 6; the circumstances of this 
Church and the reasons of the Church's refrisal to consent to their Pastor's dismission 
from them.." 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 14 

take place after another 4 Sabbaths. ^^^ The recorded letter about 
Rev. Patten sheds some light in an overview of the situation: 

''We the Church of Christ in Halifax, having several years enjoyed the/ learned, 
orthodox, and godly ministry of the Rev. Mr. William Patten, and he, apprhending it to be 
his duty on account of our divided and contentious circumstances to discontinue his ministry 
.among us; he now desires a dismission from his pastoral relation to is and also a 
recommendation to the North Church in Lebanon, that he may unite with them as a 
member in holy Fellowship. We grant both these requests, and we recommend him to 
said Church or to any. other Church, as HIS brother whose conversatbn has been as 
becomes the Gospel, And. we acknowledge it a great blessing that we have enjoyed his 
pastoral labours so long, viz. for better than nine years; in this time we truly found him a. 
diligent, zealous, faithful minister of Jesus and have great reason to be humbled before God 
for our own unfruitfulnes;.: vis. for God's correcting rod in removing him from us, we desire 
him: still to pray for us, wishing him all blessings temporal, spiritual and internaV ^^ 

It is likely this controversy and problem arose within the contentions of a small 
group within the church. The center of this was Captain Josiah Sturtevant Sturtevant , 
wanted to ^^revive the discipline of this church" . In his petition to the church he sought 
to say that children that are baptized are ^^under the watch and care of the church" and 
are subject to the discipline of the church. Furthermore, that the Covenant be read 
publicly on the Lord's Day and that the duties and sins thereon be read (by the Pastor) 
and briefly explauied. Also to fuid a ''fit person" to inspect the 'inorals of the church 
members and baptized persons, and that it should be their office to enter complaints 
agamst such as walk disorderly." (He suggests Deacon Cushman, Messr's Ebenezer 
Fuller, Anthony Waterman, and Noah Tuikham perform this duty.) Also that this 
petition be referred to a gathering of pastors (a council). ^^^ Also in 1762, Rev. Patten 
was charged by Mrs. Abigail Drew that he "delivered erroneous doctrine" within a 
sermon several weeks prior. After much detiberations, the church decided the 
complaint had little merit Still. Mrs. Drew continued to be absent from worship, and at 
a meeting on April 21, 1763, Mrs. Drew was compelled to church to give her reasons. In 
essence she reiterated the reasons given the fall beforehand. She adds that Rev. Patten 
had changed his notes when be re-read them to her in the prior council meeting. The 
church continued their view that Mrs. Drew's complaint did not create reason to be 

^^^ Notably in a subsequent vote was the vote to give a recommendation for Rev. Patten 

to go to the North Church in Lebanon, CT. This was agreed to. CR, Book One, page 


^^^ CR, Book One, pages 134-5. 

^^^ CR, Book One, Pages 135. It seems that Sturtevant' s request was turned down by 

the churches invited to form a council as reported in the subsequent 12/17/ 1760 meeting 

notes. Sturtevant tried again to get the Halifiax Church to compel a council to be formed 

but this time the church turned dovm the request. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 15 

absent Furthermore she was charged with malicious gossip and this was proved 

su£Gciently. Add to this a third charge of lying and this as well was proved. It is likely 

this issue continued to ferment m the background. 

On October 27, 1763, there was a global revision suggested to become the polity of 

the church body. These sweeping revisions were passed: 

l>The church choose a number of serious, judicious and exemplary of their 

number to mspect the morals of the persons under their watch and care. 

2> These persons shall jom with the Pastor in visitmg and discoursing with all 

that have or shall have fallen into scandal. 

3> These persons with the Pastor have the power to call offenders before them, 

also evidences, and to proceed to the hearing of causes;... 

5> That if a person accused appear mnocent upon a hearing of his case then the 
charge agamst him be dismissed. And if a person appear to them to be guUty, then 
the accusation, the evidence and the parties defense be committed to writing, and 
m a true Ught laid before the church for them finally to determme the cause. 
6> This way the church may be saved much trouble '' the hearing a cause will 

require but Uttle time or pams compared with what is now required." 
7> This is agreeable to Acts 15:6 

8> In this way the it is probable by the Divine Blessuig that offenders might 
oftentunes brought to a sense of their offense and an acknowledgment of them, 
without any trouble to the church; and likewise many contentions and difficulties 
might be removed and healed without public scandal to any. ^^ 

The need for this type of action and activity shows how difficult 
things may have become. This is further evidenced in the 
deliberations of a meeting on March 28, 1765. In this meeting 
several groups that were not attending church were addressed: 
a> Josiah Sturtevant, Jonathan Ripley, Moses Inglee, John Tilson, 
Noah Tinkham, and Samuel Fuller were there to respond to the 
charges and had written the information by letter some six months 
prior. (10/18/1764) They were found guilty of Breech of Conduct by 
a church vote. 

b> Mr. and Mrs. Drew shared a paper dated 12/5/1764, plus an 
additional one signed by 8 members dated 12/11/1764, plus a third 
one signed by nine members on 3/12/1765. These letters petitioned 
for a council to hear the various dissatisfactions and grievances , 

^^^ CR, Book One, pages 97-99 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 16 

whether the church will choose a committee to form this "council" . 

^^^ This was all agreed to. 
This dissatisfaction was a continuous issue for Rev. Patten and so this 
difficulty continued to move forward into the Summer and in July, 
1765, the date for the council was set for August 20**', 1765 at the house 
of Rev. Patten. The charges against Rev. Patten were dismissed but 
with a reprimand. ^^^ The aggrieved folks were approached to be 
welcomed into the communion of the church. Although this grievance 
was formally handled, it still was not settled, as one member of the 
dissatisfied, Josiah Sturtevant, continued some "sabre rattling" against 
Rev. Patten. This continued into early 1766. One sentence in the 
February 25 meeting exchanges brings out the core of the issue against 
Rev. Patten, specifically in a complaint against Hannah Ripley, Josiah 
Sturtevant said "you do not like me because I don't like you should 
have a drunken minister,". ^^^ This gives rise further to the reason's 
for Rev. Patten's eventual resignation being "due to health reasons". 
After Patten's departure, Josiah Sturtevant shared his letter of 
recantation with the church, in which the church allowed he and his 
compatriots back to full communion. ^^^ 

^^' CR, Book One, pages 99-100 The possible reason for this not being jumped on in the 
winter of 1764/5 was the severity of the weather. January into march was bitter cold with 
much snow. RI had a sustained low temperature of -6. Cold weather persisted into 
March with a 2 day blizzard of Destructive winds, and deep snows. Early American 
Winters: 1604-1820 by David Ludlum. Page 60. Another notable one on Easter weekend 
wrecked ships from NC to Maine and had 2 feet of new snow 
^^^ ". . .the Pastor was acquitted of the several charges brought against him by the 
dissatisfied, but at the same time faulted for some bold, rash and impudent expressions, 
..." CR Book One, pages 101. 

^^^ CR, Book One, page 103. Refer further to the Pastoral Registry in the Appendix 
section to read further on Rev. Patten's alcoholism and it's impact.. 
^^"^ "We- acknowledge that it-has been a day of great temptation with us, wherein we aresensible that 
our comftions have been rich stined, and as we are bound by a solemn covenant with this Church, to walk in 
hc^ fdlowshp wifliten, aridhave for sometime jBStwiftidrawnfrom their communion, and several of our Brethren 
are offended with usirciti'-<xiiduct,vsewciulds^itis\ayp]ffiiblewe may have ened from the mle of duty in our 
conduct, andweheinwe havedone so we ask Christian forgiveness, as we desire oiso to forgive all i^diom 
we ^)prehend mayy have injured us and desire that all past things controverted may be forgotten, and to walk 
in charity for the future.. Josiah Sturtevant, Jonathan Ripley, Samuel Fuller, Moses Ingiee, Nathan 
Tinkham, John Tilson.". Church Records, Book One, pages 137-8. Notably, Deacon Tomson, Messr's 
Joseph Dunbar, Ebenezer Fuller, and John Watemian should sin the dismissal and the recwnmaidation 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 117 

Rev. Patten's energies did bring some fruition. During the first 
six years of the 1760's there were 43 baptisms ^^^ and seven admitted 
into membership.^^^ Rev. Patten continued to live in the parsonage after 
the termination and in September of 1766, the selectmen were charged 
to approach Patten to try to agree on some use of the house and the 
potential release of it. ^^^ In the conclusion, Rev. Patten surrendered the 
deed to the parsonage and headed for CT. 

The church in the interim period felt the need to take some time 
to decide what was next and appointed Deacon Tomson will be the clerk 
of the church while there is a pastoral vacancy. Also Deacon Tomson 
and Messr's Dunbar and Waterman be given the task of calling 
meetings if need be. This would be the case throughout the remainder 
of 1766. The Town of Halifax seemed to press the church for more 
action. In September, 1766 they voted to supply the pulpit for six 
months and they also chose Noah Cushman, John Tomson, and Daniel 
Dunbar as a committee to provide a minister for supply, and voted 
further that Esqr. Croade was to keep (board) the minister ^'as cheap as 
another man, and that he be a committee to ...provide a place." ^^^ 

The interim period was filled by two preachers; Ephraim Briggs 
and Samuel Angier. In February, at a council led by Rev. Conant of 

^^^ Robert and Abigail Waterman (ch of Samuel and Mary) , Robert Waterman (s of 
Joseph and Patience) , Sarah Cushing (d of Noah and Hannah), Mary Bearse, Salah, 
Isaac, Zenos Bosworth (ch of Joseph), Lydia, Llemuel, and Samuel Fuller (ch of Samuel 
and Elizabeth), Hannah Allen (d or Micah), Abagail Briggs (d of Ebenezer and Abagail), 
Nathaniel Croade (s of Nathaniel), Eunice Fuller, (d of Ebenezer), Gamaliel Hatch (s of 
David and Desire), Absolom Holmes (s of Elizabeth and William), Ferdinand and Bonini 
Hall, (Ch of Elizabeth and Abner Hall), Abigail and Ebenezer Inglee (by Rev. Shaw) (ch 
of Moses) , Jonathan, Jacob and Molly Loring (ch of Ignatius and Bathsheba), Sarah, 
William and Ruth Patten,( ch of William and Ruth) , Rebekah Ripley (d of Zerviah and 
Jonathan), Josiah, Hannah, Foster, and Lois Sturtevant (Ch of Josiah and Priscilla), Seth, 
and Thomas Tomson (ch of Thomas, Jr.) , Moses and Rachel Tomson (ch of Zebediah 
and Zerviah), Susanna, Eliphalet and Nathan Tomson (ch of John and Betty), Huldah and 
Eliphalet Waterman (ch of Eleazar and Alice) , Timothy and Judah Wood (ch of Judah 
and Hannah), 

^^^ Hannah Cushing (6/29/1760), Ruth Dunbar (8/1761), Lois Fuller (4.24/1763), Jenny 
Leach ( 5/29/1763), Mary Bearse and Elizabeth Bearse (9/25/1763), Micah Allen 
(9.7/1766) . Of note are the undated names of Mercy Tilson and Mary Sears whose 
names were imbedded in the listing within the original records and were likely included 
but undated. This brings the potential number to nine. CR, Book One, page 140ff. 
^^^ Halifax Town Records . Book One, Page 118. (September 22, 1766). And again on 
February 23, 1767 (page 123). 
^^^ Ibid, page 118. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 1 1 8 

Middleboro (First Church), the church body in Halifax was asl^ed if 
they felt ready for securing their next pastor. Likewise the town 
leadership also was asking. It seems the search was in the direction of 
Mr. Briggs as on February 23, 1767, "the town voted to concur with the 
church vote in the call of Mr, Ephraim Briggs of Norton to the work of the 
ministry in Halifax and there were 36 votes in the affirmative and there 
was one in the negative^\ A few incentives were added in a meeting on 
march 23. ^'^ At a subsequent meeting on April 6^*", (1767), Rev. 
Ephraim Briggs was called to settle in Halifax. His letter of 
recommendation came from the Second Church of Norton, MA. And he 
was currently living in Norton, MA. Rev. Briggs agreed and since the 
agreement was on the same day, he was likely in the vicinity visiting his 
in-laws, the home of Deacon Robert Waterman, whose daughter he had 
married after graduating from Harvard in 1764. It is reasonable to note 
he was likely already a locally known person. 

^^^ Ibid, page 122, these were likely monetary and use of the parsonage on top of the 
previously agreed £ 133 6shilling and 8 pence for settling paid over the next 2 yearsm 
and an additional £ 60 per year salary, use of the town's wood lot and use of the town's 
cleared land for farming. On a meeting on April 6, use/"possession" of the parsonage 
was given by the town for the coming year. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church 



of Rev. Briggs- Halifax To\im Records 
1, page 119. 

His 33 year tenure would take the church through tumultuous 

times. ^^^ Seven churches were invited to attend and participate in the 
ordination of Briggs in Halifax on April 29, 1767. ^"^ The town agreed 
to board those who traveled to come to Halifax. It is unfortunate that 
the church records for the tenure of Rev. Briggs is quite scant. This was 
a tumultuous and challenging time for church, community and country. 
We can still glean some fertile clues from other sources, especially the 
Town Records and Selectmen's Records of Halifax. 

'"'' CR, Book One, Page 147-148. 

"^"' Rev. Porter Preached , Rev. Angier gave the charge. Rev. Shaw gave the Right Hand 

of Fellowship and Rev's Shaw, Conant and Porter conducted the Laying on of Hands. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 120 

The longstanding production of iron for use as well as charcoal 
all made Halifax important in the scheme of things. One major source 
of iron ore was the Monpossett Ponds where yearly contracts were 
awarded to those who wished to extract the bog iron for smelting in 
Fuller's furnace (and elsewhere). ^^^ There was also some digging in the 
ministerial lands (wood lot) controlled by the town. (1782) . ^^^ It is 
likely these furnaces continued unabated through the Revolutionary 
War period and beyond. Notably, the town voted to NOT build a 
powderhouse (armory) to keep the town stock. ^^ 

The town's interest in good education remained at a high mark. 
A schoolmaster was sought to teach at each of the three existing schools 
in Halifax. ^^^ Further interest was for the day-to-day upkeep of the 
church for in 1771 it was voted to again repair the meetinghouse. The 
aging structure needed patching at each end, and the roof needed 
patching as well as the "torn" side doors. Caleb Sturtevant and John 
Bozworth and Seth Bryant were the committee to both inspect and see 
that it was done. This decision took over a year to be done. ^^^ To 
accomplish this in a time of scarce funds, the town sold some pews to 
the highest bidder. ^^^ Further aesthetic additions were decided as it 
was voted to ''color the doors and window frames and boardwork of both 
ends and far side of the meetinghouse on the outside and that John 
Waterman, Reuben Tomson and Judah Wood were chosen a committee to 

^°^ Annual stipends were given. For example on March 8, 1762, it was voted that Noah 

Cushing shall be allowed to have all the iron "oar" from Monpossett Pond he can take for 

one year. Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 105. 

^^^ Ibid, page 201. 

^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 153 (7/24/1774) 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 124. ''Town shall have a schoolmaster for 

Reading and Writing and Cyphering ... . Voted that the schoolmaster shall keep 1/3 at 

Monpossett Schoolhouse part of the time, 1/3 at the schoolhouse in the middle of the 

town, part of the time, 1/3 at the schoolhouse near Ehenezer Tomson third part is to be 

kept. Voted that school shall be kept but nine months. " 

^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 136 is the initial address to the need for 

repairs (3/15/1771) with the evaluation and committee chosen on May 20, 1771 (see 

page 138). Eventually m September the committee and town settled on the following 

repairs: Repair the Great Doors, singles replaced in several places, put in new window 

frames (9/30/1771) Page 139. This repair was amended the folio wmg August that only 

one side (the "back side" of the roof was to be done, (page 140 - 8/27/ 1772). 

^^^ Specifically the two front seats in the women's gallery to make 2 pews , and 2 hind 

seats in the men's side and on the woman's side in the body of the seats below to make 

pews on that floor. (Halifax Town Records, Book One pages 142-3 for specific 

purchasers, prices paid and other details of the sales) (dated 5/22/1772 and 8/23/1772). 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 121 

complete it.^^ Reuben Tomson was instructed that he '^should batten the 
east end of the meetinghouse above the beams within the side and to patch 
the Great Doors" ^^^This gathered support of the money to pay for 
renovations may also accent another use in animal control. Funds may 
also go to pay bounties on crows and squirrels, etc. 

The divisions between the supporters of independence and the 
loyalists to the King were growing more vehement in the late 1760's and 
early to mid 1770's. Conflict was inevitable. As noted before, in 1766 
the dreaded Stamp Act was repealed but the next year in 1767 came a 
new list of Taxes on glass, tea, drystuffs and paper to name a few. The 
following year the Massachusetts Assembly was dissolved for refusing 
assist in the collection of taxes. Furthermore, New York and Boston 
were refusing to quarter British troops in the cities. Similar situations 
were happening all up and down the Eastern Seaboard. ^^^ This period 
of time was the first concentrated use of printed media as the number of 
newspapers sprang up in the years prior to the conflict to support both 
sides of the debate over liberty and the British. ^^^ ^^^ The rhetoric 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One , page 140. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 143 and 145, "voted to give a bounty of 8 

pence a head for all crows killed in the town of Halifax the year ensuing, the heads to be 

carried to the selectmen . . .." "Voted 8 pence a head and 2 coppers for squirrels, 

blackbirds and red wings ..." 

^^^ Timetables of History , by Grun, page 355-6. 

^'^ 1704- First Newspaper in Boston - weekly/ single sheet/2 sides 

1719- on ** Boston Gazette Pro Colonist 

1 72 1 - 1 727 New England Courant Pro- Colonist 

1734 - 1775 ** Boston Post Day Pro- Tory 

1735-1775 ** Boston Evening Post NEUTRAL 

(**)These papers wrote a great deal about the Stamp Act and other taxes. 

In 1761, Samuel Adams (writing as "Populous" in the Boston Gazette on 3/14/1751 said 

"There is nothing so fretting and vexatious, nothing so justly terrible to tyrants , and their 

tools and abettors as a free Press". 

Also in the Boston Gazette (10/3/1761) a Liberty Song "Not the Glitter of Arms nor the 

Dread of Fray; could make us submit to their choice for a day; Withheld by Affection, 

on Briton, we call; Present the fierce Conflict, which to render you Free". 

^'^ Debates raged in Boston and surrounding towns were invited to participate: ''voted to 

chose a man of a committee to act in the town 's behalf at the convention at Fanuel Hall 

in Boston on the 2T^ instant .... Voted that Deacon Tomson should be a committee man 

to go to Boston as agent for the town to answer to the selectmen of Boston 's letter ". 

Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 127 (4/21/1 768). Halifax decided to NOT send 

any representative to Boston for the years 1767, 1768. 1769 (page 130), and 1771 (pg 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 122 

continued to ramp up until censure in the 1770's by Britain. The first 
flashpoint happened in 1770 at the "Boston Massacre". This served to 
deepen the intertwining of "Covenant (that is God's Covenant as ours) 
and Liberty" and let this be a regular theme in the preaching of 
Congregational pulpits. ^^^ The political scenario was also entering the 
topic and themes of the messages shared. The churches were struggling 
as there was a scarcity of clergy to use. The main reason was the draw 
away of people who may become clergy. This was due to the impact of 
the French and Indian war drawing away competent people. In fact 
this dearth of clergy was also due to the ministers that volunteered as 
chaplains during the conflict to care for the dying, to inspire the living 
and to live in the camps with the soldiers and keep morale high for the 
conflict. The emotional toll was tremendous even after the French and 
Indian War and into the early to mid-1770's. ^^^ 

As to preaching, there is "scarcely a parish in New England where 
there does not exist some authentic story of what the minister of that 
day said, in sermon or prayer, by way of exhorting the people to resist 
the invasion of their rights, and calling on God to confound and cut off 
their invasions. The thanksgiving and fast-day sermons which had 
been present, abound in Patriotic Appeals of the most pointed 
character. Even the Sabbath Services were not infrequently spiced with 
respect to the same. " Rev. Phillip Sidney in 1775, says from his Boston 
Pulpit, "It is an indispensable duty, my brethren, which we owe God 
and our country, to rouse up and bestir ourselves as being animated 
with a noble zeal for the sacred cause of liberty, to defend our lives and 
fortunes, even to the shedding of blood... "^^^ With rhetoric like this, by 

^^^ Shaping of American Congregationalism , by Von Rohr, page 201-2. 

As noted in an oration delivered in 1817, reviewing the pre- War period, "In America this 

religion may be possessed, pure and enjoyed unmolested. In America the bounties of 

Heaven are united with the blessings of the earth. And if her citizens continue to 

preserve the one and abuse not the other, the Republic will stand - the glory of the world 

— " An Oration presented before the students of Brown Universitv in the College 

Chapel, July 4, 1817, in commendation of the Aimiversarv of American Independence . 

bv Benjamin Allen (Providence, Wheeler Printers, 1817). 

^ "^ A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts from 1620 to 

1858, by Clarke, pages 204-5. 

^^^ IBID, page 206 and 208. 

Also, the "election sermon" was a clear exposition of Divine Law in its application. 

-Rev. William Gardner of Roxbury (now Jamaica Plain) in a sermon of July 19, 1775 

notes "before announcing his text, professes his zeal for the cause of liberty and bespeaks 

'The most candid allowances from so respectable of audiences, as oft my knowledge is 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 123 

1775, the situation had progressed to the point of anticipating the 
necessity for declaring independence and constructing a new 
government. A 1774 Boycott of British goods was already in place and 
working. ^^^ This boycott in Halifax also was expressed in not sending 
the provincial dues to Boston on January 2, 1775 and keeping it in the 
town treasury. Funding soldiers was likely the money's intended future 

It is important to ask why the Halifax history initially seems 
somewhat subdued in comparison to other towns with respect to the 
"Liberty rhetoric" . and why the notes of the church seem so strangely 
sparse in recording. Also why there is not a single meeting around the 
rhetoric of the potential for liberty. The reason in my view was that 
Halifax had a share of Tories in town. Marshfield was the center of 
toryism in the SE part of the state, but there were clusters of them in 
various towns, in particular, Plymouth, Taunton and Halifax. It is 
unknown as to the total number but Marshfield alone the number stood 
at 300+. Halifax was a place of refuge after the city of Boston was 
evacuated by the soldiers in 1776 and some came to Halifax to await the 


outcome of things. In 1776 the total population of Halifax was 672. 

surpassed by my zeal, considering that the last should predominate now, that the times 
call for vigorous, unabating exertions' one needs to remember that the battle smoke has 
just rolled away from Bunker Hill, and that Boston is still in possession of British 
Troops. . . We should certainly rebel against the sovereign of the universe in his 
providential dispositions..." Ibid, page 206-7. Also Shaping of American 
Congregationalism , by Von Rohr, page 202. In a February 7^*^ Town Meeting (Kingston) , 
enough arms were voted to arm 33 men. The selectmen of several towns (Plymouth, 
Duxbury, Pembroke, Hanson, Situate, and Kingston) went to the Provincial Congress to 
protest "armed forces being placed among them", referring to the British troops in 
Marshfield. They advised the congress to keep a watchfiil eye on those who "are aiming 
at the destruction of our liberties." Kingston and the Civil War, an essay by Gerald 
Barclay, page 4, footnoting History of Plymouth, Norfolk, and Barnstable Counties, page 
262. In later 1775 Kingston was requested to send a representative to the General Court 
(ib Boston- pro-Royalist) and refused, sending a representative to the Provincial Congress 
in Watertown instead. Likewise Halifax sent no representative in 1773, 1774., 1775, 
1776, 1777 and 1778. (Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 147, 154, 159, 161, 175 
and 184 resp.). 

^'^ Timetables of History , by Grun, page 358. 

^'^ Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 1 54 ''voted that the Provincial moneys now 
in the collector 's hands be paid into the town treasury and kept there until further orders 

from the town. " "voted that the minute men draw out for military exercises shall have 

pay for two half days in a week... " 

^' Nathaniel Ray Thomas, the Mandamus Counselor was in Marshfield and came to 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 124 

The specifics of this time period are drawn from the record of the 
Town of Halifax. In overview business went on. 

A story is recorded of a confrontation as a result of the tensions 
between the "defenders of Liberty" and "supporters of the Crown". 
This is the same one denoted humorously as the "Marshfield 
Blunderer" who was severely taunted by the colonists in July, 1774. 
The story is as follows: 

" In the month of July in the year 1774, about 
seven hundred persons from different parts of the 
county assembled in Marshfield, and marched to the 
dwelling of Mr. Thomas, to endeavor to compel him to 
resign his commission of mandamus counsellor. 
Arriving here they were told that he had gone to 
Boston; however they searched his house, and put 
the family under oath, administered by a justice of 
Pembroke, who was present, and they solemnly 
declared that he was absent. 

Another, Abijah White, who had been the 
representative of the town in the General Court, and a 
government man of great zeal, but of little discretion, 
carried to Boston the celebrated Marshfield resolves, 
censuring the whigs, and caused them to be 
published, which drew upon him their wrath, and he 
sunk under the burden of general ridicule. He was 
obliged to flee to the protection of the British in 
Boston, to rescept the fury of the whigs, and here in 
remuneration for his services, the English General 
appointed him superintendent of a turnip field, which 
had been planted (where now is the Boston Latin 
School,) by the troops to furnish themselves with 
vegetables for the sick, the town at that time being 
deprived of all intercourse with the country without. 

Halifax, MA, initially after the evacuation as a safety measure. Drawn from the internet : 
http://2 1 6. 1 09. 1 25. 1 30/search/cache?p=Rev.+%22+Briggs%22%2C+MA%2C+Halifax& 
prssweb=Search&ci=UTF-8&fr=slvl - 

^^^ Vital Records of the Town of Halifax, 1905, 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 125 

This proved scarcely consistent with the dignity of 
the Marshfield loyalist. 

The mob sometimes acted with indiscretion, 
though it is not known that the town on any occaison 
forced upon these enemies of their liberties any 
unwarrantable punishments. Some, it is true, were 
compelled to sign recantations of sentiments under 
the liberty pole. The following account is given* of the 
treatment of a Halifax Tory, at the hands of some of 
the furious whigs. One Jesse Dunbar by name, 
having bought some fat cattle of a mandamus 
counsellor in 1774, drove them to Plymouth for sale. 
The whigs soon learned with whom he had presumed 
to deal, and after he had slaughtered, skinned and 
hung up one of the beasts, commenced punishing 
him for the offence. His tormentors, it appears, put 
the dead ox in a cart and fixed Dunbar in his belly, 
carted him four miles and required him to pay one 
dollar for the ride. He was then delivered over to a 
Kingston mob, who carted him four other miles and 
exacted another dollar. A Duxbury mob then took him 
and after beating him in the face with the creature's 
tripe, and, endeavoring to cover his person with it, 
carried him to counsellor Thomas' house, and 
compelled him to pay a further sum of money. 
Flinging his beef into the road, they now left him to 
recover and return as he could. When he was 
received from the Kingston mob, he was put into a 
cart belonging to Mr. Wiliam Arnold. By the command 
of Capt. Wait Wadsworth, he was first allowed to walk 
by the cart; but while some of the boys, who were 
collected in great numbers, were dancing around him, 
he tripped some of them up with his feet, which so 
irritated the people, that they placed him again in the 
cart with renewed violence; and soon again 
transferred him to another ox cart, which carried him 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 126 

and finally tipped him out in front of the counsellor's 
door." ^'^ 

It was distinctly a time of travail for Tory and Colonial. 
Fortunately the 1770's were a time of reasonable weather as the 
challenges to the Colonists may have been multiplied. ^^^ The other 
story of import involved a soldier from a detachment in Marshfield who 
was hidden by the residents of Halifax. This story is of particular note 
as it had the potential of igniting the conflict of the Revolution, and 
potentially the initial "shot" of the Revolutionary war could well have 
been happened in Halifax, rather than elsewhere. The saga may be a 
bit legend, but has the core of a valid story. 

That story is as follows as told in an 1840 Historical narrative by 
Asa Tomson: 

,an event took place in the town, between the citizens 

and five of the British soldiers, which to all appearances, would 
have rendered Halifax instead of Lexington the place of the 
memorable shot, where the first blood was spilt in the revolution. 
Had it not been for the mild counsel of the clergyman, MR, 

^^^ IBID (same website as in Fn #270) also reiterated in Of Tea and Tories by Cynthia 
Hagan Krussel (Marshfield Bicentennial Committee, 1776 ) pages 9-10. For a Tory 
viewpoint of this situation See Remarkable High Tories: Supporters of King and 
Parliament In Revolutionary Massachusetts by William H. B. Thomas (Heritage Books, 
Bowie, MD, 2001) pages 26-28. 

^^* Only one pre-Revolutionary War winter storm of note is found in the records. In 
March of 1772 a series of severe snowstorms covering March 5 - 20* and an additional 
storm on April 2-3 set a number of records. Five feet of snow fell in 16 days ! It was 
accompanied by high wind and cold temperatures . Timetables of History , by Grun, 
"1772", and details in Early American Winters by David Ludlum, page 60. 
And if that wasn't enough to add to the apocalyptic expectations of the expected conflict, 
there Two significant earthquakes in the area with destruction of buildings , October 29, 
1727, and Nov, 17, 1775. (There were more before that: 1638, 1658, 1663) Nathaniel 
Ray Thomas of Marshfield writes to a fiiend, ". . .1 think it an infinite mercy of God, that 
we survived the last night's tremendous Shock which we had been most sensible affected 
with, for one of my Parlor Chimneys was shook down. . ." Remarkable High Tories , by 
William B. Thomas, 2001, page 83. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 127 

The circumstances attendant on this event were these, a Mr. 
Thomas, one of the king's mandamers council had fled from 
Marshfield to Boston for protection by the British; he obtained a 
company of British soldiers to go to Marshfield and protect his 
house and property from the apprehended depredation of the 
whigs. While the soldiers were at Marshfield, one of the men 
deserted by the name of Taylor, and came to Halifax. He was a 
cordwainer by profession and hired himself to Thomas Drew at 
the south part of the town, Daniel Dunbar, who kept a public 
house in the center of the town, was an adherent to the British 
cause in this context, who wrote to the commander of the 
company at Marshfield, that Taylor was in town, and might be 
easily taken. The commander in consequence of this 
information, detached a corporal and four men to go to Dunbar 
and receive directions to take him. Two were to go on foot and 
three on horseback. The distance was about 16 miles, the men 
were to stand on foot in the forepart of the day, and the 
horsemen to start early the next morning, so to meet at Dunbar's 
by ten o'clock in the morning. The two on foot feigned 
themselves deserters from the company at Marshfield On their 
way to Halifax, they learned there was a training of the minute 
men at Plympton, they concluded to turn aside and see them 
exercise. When the minute men learned they were deserters they 
were exceedingly pleased ~ They made many inquiries 
respecting the British Army, and the pretended dissention gave 
them a flattering account of their own cause and their own 
attainments in the military exercises. They said the British army 
would not be able to conquer the country, and that a large share 
of then would desert Every mark of attention went there, and no 
rite of hospitality was re(fused). ~ after they had been at Park's 
tavern a while, they were unable to accomplish remainder of 
their contemplated journey that night, their limbs refused to 
perform their wanted office; however by morning, their limbs 
freely en(dured) their accustomed service and they arrived at 
Dunbar's in time for breakfast In adjusting the ??? of the day. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 128 

the two footmen , who the day before had declared themselves 
deserters, should go to and with their delusion keep Taylor at 
bay, till the horsemen could arrive. To prevent their making a 
mistake, by taking a wrong road, Dunbar gave each party a 
written direction. The men found their way without any trouble. 
But the horsemen, when they came to the meeting house 
searched for their directions but could not. . .. But they were 

to saw mill dam and drew lived in the second house. They 

concluded to go forward and make inquiry. Instead of taking the 
south road they took the north road; and they inquired for a saw 
mill: they were directed to the one in the north west of the town, 
in short, they visited three sawmills besides the right one before 
they arrived at Drew ^s. 

Doctor Allen who lived a few rods to the east of the meeting 
house overheard the conversation of the horsemen, he 
immediately prepared to give Taylor notice. In taking bypaths, he 
arrived at Drew ^s shortly after the footmen. The Doctor revealed 
the secret to Drew, and Drew secretly revealed it to Taylor. 
Taylor placed such confidence in his old companions and 
pretended deserters, he could not be prevailed on to believe the 
report of the doctor, till the horsemen made their appearance, he 
then fled to the swamp which was near at hand and there kept 
secreted until his pursuers had departed They thought it 
probable that Taylor had gone to a neighboring house for 
shelter, they repaired to the house, and in authoritative language 
demanded Taylor. This son of Liberty at once convinced these 
unwelcome intruders that the appearance of red coats 
embellished with the instruments of death would not affright him 
or be a guarantee to any improper conduct in this house. < 
WRITER NOTES ''see extra leaf but none exists > 

Having failed in this expedition, these mermydons of 
British tyranny returned to Daniel Dunbar's in a close column. 
The news of their proceedings spread far and wide with the 
rapidity of the wind Sylvanus Bartlet and Peres Bradford who 
belonged to the minute man company happened to be the first in 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Plympton, who heard what these pretended deserters had done, 
instantly assumed they military equifage and made for Halifax 
meeting house. Here they met when it was their appointment to 
town Halifax, ~ while on their way it so happened. When the 
Plympton road united with the British were returning, they fell in 
with the British at the junction of the roads; the British ordered 
them to surrender, and they found themselves under the necessity 
so to do. They were carr(ying?) prisoners to Daniel Dunbar's . 
The people coming in in every quarter armed with guns, axes 
and clubs, so before 
sunset there were 
more than five 
hundred people 
Variations were of 
the opinions 
advanced, and 
projects proposed. 
Many were for 
surrounding the 
house with 

combustibles, and burn it with all who were in it; we had two 
friends in the house, the enemy had five plus Dunbar and his 
family. The British considered their lives in danger and made 
proclamation that if any violence was used they would kill their 
prisoners. At this crisis of the scene it was proposed a committee 
wait on Mr. Briggs the clergyman for his advice. Mr. Briggs 
said, blood, especially at this time, he recommends the committee 
deliver the two men, the committee would guarantee their 
peaceable return through Halifax toward 

<text broken off. > ? <Marshfield> 



Original Transcription and text in the archives of the Halifax Congregational church. 
Another version if found in the History of Plymouth County , By H Hamilton Hurdi, 1884, 
page 1 130. also Loyalists of the American Revolution, by Lorenzo Sabine ( Kennikat 
Press, Port Washington, NY, 1864) pages 397-9 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 130 

It is clear that Rev. Briggs was interested in the events of the town 
and it's involvement in the efforts of liberty but he had to walk a careful 
line as both sides were likely represented in the congregation in Sunday. 
Still the country was moving towards war. 

On April 19, 1775, the famous "Lexington Alarm" was heard and 
locally the four companies of local militia reformed and reorganized. 
One central mustering area was in Middleboro, and as mentioned the 
Minute Men both in Plympton as well as in Middleboro. ^^^ 
Congregational clergy preached "political sermons" on days other than 
Sunday at public fasts, thanksgiving days, militia training, and civil 
elections and was deeply influential on shaping and empowering public 
opinion. ^^^ One other impact of the start of conflict was the exodus of 
loyalist ministers as well as the volunteering of parish clergy to serve as 
chaplains. Overall it was noted that the start of the Revolutionary War 
was also a time of "religious depression" with church membership 
plummeting by 10% of more. Revivalistic fever and enthusiasm was at 
a low ebb. ^^^ I would surmise the same is true for the church family in 

Within the debate of support versus non-support of the cause of 
liberty, Halifax did side well with the cause of independence from 
Britain. This is added to by declarations made by Josiah Sturtevant, Jr. 

^^^ History of the Town of Middleboro , page 1 17ff. 

John Soule was in the Minute Men company in Middleboro (First Company) in 1775. 

In 1 776, several Halifax Church folk were involved: Mostly a Privates in the same First 

Company of Minute Men . 

^'^^ Ichabod, son of William Tupper living several miles away from Middleboro, hearing 

what had taken place, got up in the middle of the night and hurried to his father's house, 

and rapped on the window and shouted. Father all the bells are ringing between here and 

Boston, and we are free ! we are free!" The old man jumped out of bed and rushed to his 

window, and throwing it open, shouted at the top of his lungs, "The angels will sing for 

joy!!!" Ibid, page 124. 

^^ Samuel West addressing the Massachusetts House of Representatives on May 29, 

1776, says "the sacred cause of liberty, armed revolt is morally justified. Rulers are 

ordained by God in Scripture to promote the common good; but when rulers become 

tyrants they cease being the ordinance of God." The Living Theological Heritage of the 

United Church of Christ by Barbara Brown Zikmimd, Volume 3, "Colonial and National 

Beginnings" (The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH, 1998) , see the sermon of Rev. Samuel 

West on page 163 ff. 

^^^ Religious Historv of the American People , by Ahlstrom, Vol. I, page 442-4. This was 

coimtry wide, with the exception of the deep south. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 131 

and Daniel Dunbar of Halifax who had accepted the commissions of the 
crown and had to recant their position. Josiah Sturtevant is a name we 
are familiar with in the various disciplines that were brought to bear in 
the church towards his father. On September l?**" both men submitted 
similar statements, 

"/, the subscriber y do Promise and solemnly engage to all people 
now assembled at Halifax, in the county of Plymouth, on the 1 f^ Day of 
September, 1 774, 1 never will take, hold, execute, or exercise any 
Commission, Office or Employment Whatsoever, under of By Virtue of, or 
in any manner derived from any authority, pretended or attempted to be 
given by a Late Act of Parliament, Entitled an Act for the better 
Regulating the Government of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in 
New England Furthermore, I Own and acknowlege that my Conversation 
and Behavior to the Sons of Liberty, also with regard to the Ministers of 
the Gospel, has been very abusive to my brethren and Friends in this 
place, for which Offense I ask their forgiveness, and beg that they would 
resume me into their fellowship and Friendship again. About 300 people 
requiring it, I signe my name, '' <Josiah Sturtevant> ^^^ 

As soon as the alarm from Lexington was heard the citizens lined 
up to enter the time of war. The following chart shows the registry of 
people who enlisted in Halifax. In comparison to the membership list of 
the Halifax Church it is clear that a high percentage of those who 
enlisted were also members of the church. Furthermore, On May 31 a 
third provincial Congress was convened in Watertown, meeting for 
several weeks. On June 29*** it was resolved that 13,000 coats needed to 
be made/ provided as soon as may be for each non-commissioned officer 
in the Massachusetts Forces. Plymouth County was to furnish 1,054 
with the town of Halifax responsible for 24 of them. <Internet site 
referring to the Minutes of the Massachusetts Congress. (Residents 
were advised to kill no more sheep unless out of necessity )> 

^^^ This is quoted in History of Plymouth County by D. Hamilton Hurd, 1884, page 1 130- 

OPPOSITE POINT: This statement of allegiance of Dr. Sturteyant is countered by a 
quote from Lois his wife, hearing him on his death bed On August 8, 1775. "My dear 
husband departed this life in Boston at 55 years where he was driyen by a mad and 
deluded mob for no other offense but loyalty to his soyereign. God forgiye them.... , 
buried August 21,1 775, Old South Church Cemetery, Boston, MA" . < Quoted in the 
Charted Genealogy of the Sturteyant family, cited by Paul and Anna Sturteyant to Rey. 
Wadsworth. 6/28/2007> 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 




1= Enlisted April, 1775 in the Continental Army for 8 mo in Roxbury. 

2= Enlisted Summer, 1775 in the Continental Army in Roxbury. 

3= Enlisted December, 1775 in the Continental Army, served in NY for 

1 year. 

4= Enlisted December 1775 to January, 1776 in Roxbury and Boston. 

5= Enlisted on January 30, 1776, in Roxbury or Boston. 

6= Enlisted August, 1776 in Boston for 5 months. 

7= Enlisted in 1776 in Rhode Island 

8= Enlisted in 1776 in Bristol, Rhode Island 

9= Enlisted in 1776 in the Continental Army, served in NY for 5 


10= Enlisted in July, 1776 and served in "Quebeck" for 5 months. 

11= Enlisted in August, 1776 in Boston and served for 5 months. 

12 = Enlisted in December, 1776 in Bristol. 

13= Enlisted in 1777 for 3 years 

14= June 1777 in the Continental Army for 3 years 

< UNDERLINED > = Member of the Halifax Congregational Church 

X = Died during the conflict 

Lt Jesse Sturtevant - 1,3 

Set Thomas Drew - 1 

Sgt Josiah Tomson - 1, 3, 14, X 

Cap Richard Bosworth — 1, 3, 14, 


Drummer Elisha Faxon - 1, 3, 

14, X 

David Briggs - 1,12 

Isaac Sturtevant - 1,3 

John Briggs , Jr. - 1 

Samuel Faxon - 1, 3, 13 

Nathan Tinkham, Jr - 1 

Ezra Drew - 1 

Noah Fuller -1 

John Sears - 1 

Corp. Richard Briggs - 1 

Francis Wood - 1, 4 

Zebediah Tomson, Jr . - 1, 3, 14, 

Chipman Fuller - 1, 9 
Zadok Fuller -1,9 
Isaac Drew - 1, 6, 8, 12 
Nehemiah Besse (? Bearse) - 1 
Nathan Perkins - 1, 12 
Jonathan Cortis (Curtis ?) -1, 3 
Ezekiel Palmer -1,3 
Oliver Holmes - 1, 12 
Samuel Palmer - 1 
Elisha Faxon- 1, 14 
Isaac Sears - 1, 4, 13 
Thomas Cushman - 1, 4, 13 
Caleb Leach - 1, 3, 4, 13 
Andrew Bearse, Jr.- 1, 3, 4, 13 
Samuel Parris - 1 , 3, 4 
Matthew Parris -1,4 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Jabez Waterman - 1, 4, 5, 

Seth Waterman - 5, 8, 13 

Elijah Leach- 5 

Elisha Waterman - 5, 12 

Edward Sears , Jr - 5 

Sylvan us Leach - 5 

Isaiah Forrest - 5, 7, 12 

Jonathan Porter - 5, 6 

Jonah Waterman - 5, 7 

Joseph Waterman - 5 

John Waterman - 5, 7 

James Thomas - 5 

Consider Pratt - 5, 14, X 

Ephraim Samson - 6, 12, 13 

Daniel Tomson - 6, 12 

Solomon Inglee - 6, 12 

Gideon Soul - 6, 12 

Ebenezer Tomson 2"^ -7, (Sgt.) 12 

Ebenezer Tomson 3*^^ - 7 

Jabez Sturtevant - 7 

Church Sturtevant - 7, 12 

Simeon Sturtevant - 7, 12 

Isaac Waterman - 7, 12 

Ichabod Hatch - 7, 12 

William Perry - 12 

Josiah Parris - 7, 12 

Ezra Tomson - 7 

Asa Tomson - 7 

Martin Dorsin - 7 

John Forrest - 7 

Thomas Tomson, Jr - 7, 13 

Jabez Hall - 7 

Gameleil Brvant - 7 

Elijah Leach - 7 

William Waterman -12 

John Levitt, Jr. - 12 

Obadiah Lyon - 12 
Benjamin Bosworth - 5. 8 
Sylvannus Samson - 8 
Holmes Sears - 5, 12, X 

Thomas Tomson - 12 

Hosea Dunbar- 12 

Peter Tomson - 12 

Nathan Tomson - 12 

John Tilson - 12 

Edward Sears - 12 

Benjamin Parker- 12 

Thomas Fuller - 12 

Lemuel Barns - 12 

Ephriam Tinkham - 12 

Barnabas Briggs - 12 

Bavid Hatch - 12 

Micah Allen - 12 

Stephen Brvant -12 

John Tomson, Jr . - 12 

Noah Tomson - 12 

Zadok Tomson -12 

Isaac Sturtevant - 13 

Thomas Palmer - 13 

Thomas Palmer, Jr. - 13 

Isaac Cushman - 13 

Ephriam Doten - 13 

Loring Tomson - 13 

Avathar Wilson - 13 

Joseph Matthews - 13 

Caleb Holmes - 13 

Allen Faxon - 13 

Leonard Joel - 13 

Nathaniel Holmes - 14,X 

James Tilson - 14, X 

Prince Witheral - 14, X 

Home Sears - 14 

Joshua Farmer - 14, X (Former) 

Joseph Tilson - 14, X 

SLAVE- A slave owned by 

Caleb Sturtevant - 14, X 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 135 

Asa Bearse - 8 
SethSturtevant-8, 13 
James Harlow - 8 
Caleb Cushman - 8 
Eli Bosworth - 8 
Isaiah Tinkham - 8 
Joseph Bryant - 8 
Jacob Chapman - 9 (Chipman) 
James Woods - 9 
Joseph Tomson - 9 
Judah Wood - 12 
Sgt Samuel Sturtevant - 12 
John Bosworth- 12 
Benjamin Cortis - 12, 13 
John Waterman 2"^* - 12 
Jacob Soul - 12 
Isaac Tomson - 12 
Thomas Drew - 12 
John Drew - 12 
Timothy Wood - 12 
Adam Tomson - 12 
Ichabod Tomson - 12 


MEMBERS Who DIED = 2 ; Josiah Tomson and Elijah Faxon. ^^ 

^^^ These numbers gleaned from History of Plymouth County, by H H Hurd, paged 1 130- 1 133. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 136 

Of Particular interest is the entry of 
the soldier "Slave" do designate a man who was a slave to Caleb Sturtevant. 
Caleb actually had two slaves named "Bristol" and "Dinah" as early as 1757.^^^ 
Also so did Deacon Robert Waterman in 1760. ^^^ And so did Capt. Croade in 
1741. ^^^ The earliest slave in Halifax was not African but an Indian owned by 
Peter Daniel who was likely enslaved prior to the town's founding.^^^ So, 
Slavery did exist in New England, although not at the levels of the Southern 
States. Anti-Slavery sentiment was building and by the time of the Revolution, 
this ideal had some momentum. In fact in January, 1774, a bill passed both 
houses in Massachusetts but was rejected by Governor Hutchinson on March 8. 
His (British) successor also was approached and likewise refused the bill. The 
next battle front was the courts. ^^^ 

When the siege of Boston was concluded a number of British Loyalists 
began to evacuate the area. In March, 1776, 1,100 were evacuated from the 
Boston area to Halifax, Nova Scotia.^^"* In time the estates of the Loyalists were 
sold at auction. Of note there was a "liberty pole" in nearby Duxbury used for 
the punishment of Loyalists as some were taken there to make them recant their 


^^^ Halifax Town Records. Book One, page 99 dated March 10, 1760, "voted the town would not 

excuse Deacon <Robert> Waterman from paying rates for his Negro the year past." 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One page 408, vital records listed show the following : "Capt. 

Croade- Negro woman child named "Violet". Bom April 28, 1741. 

^^^ IBID, page 408 " The Children of Peter Daniel's Indian Man and Rebekah his wife: 

Joseph Daniel was bom 3/4/1735; Patience Daniel was bom Jan 31, 1737; Marey Daniel 
was bom Mat 23, 1740. " 

^^^ SLAVERY: As early as 1 770 the first case of a servant suing a master: James (servant of 
Richard Lechner in Cambridge) brought action against his master for detaining him in bondage. 
Numerous other suits were brought between 1 770 and 1 775. ON the eve of the Revolution, one 
slave owner wrote -''Know all men by these presents, that IJonathan Jackson ofNewberryport, 
county of Essex, gentlemen in consequence of the impropriety I feel, and having long felt, in holding 
my person in constant bondage - more especially at a time when my country is so warmly 
contending for liberty every man ought to enjoy ~ , having sometimes promised my Negro man 
Pomp, that I would give him his freedom.., I do thereby liberate, and set him free; ... June, 1776. 
" It is possible this "slave" of Caleb's may have been under the same sentiment. The 1790 
Federal Census shows no slaves owned in Halifax by that year. Federal Census of the US: 1790, 
"Massachusetts" (Washington Printing Office, 1908) page 169. 

Of further interest as the War progresses, Lt. Thomas Kerch wanted to form a "colored 
regiment" to fight in the Revolutionary War. I suspect the best sentiment of the day comes from 
an epitaph not far from Lexington, MA . On the gravestone if the following: God wills us free, 
Man wills us slaves, I will as God wills, God's will be done !" 

The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution by William C. Nell (Amo Press, NY, 1958 ) 
from a pamphlet released in 1 855 by Robert F. Wallcutt . , pages 41-43, 49, 100. 

Close to 70,000 left during the war or soon after. Religious History of The American People , 
Vol I, page 447. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 137 

loyalties, and others were brought to 

Plymouth and jailed there. ^^^ Of further note was the shipbuilding industry in 
Kingston. "The very first navy vessel built for service in the American 
Revolutionary War was built in that town (Kingston) and launched in he Jones 
River, named for the Captain of the 'Mayflower'". In addition. Cannon were 
fashioned there to outfit ships for the fight. ^^^In June, 1776, the previous center 
of Tory settlement, was the first town to declare independence. (On June 19, 
1776, Marshfleld declared publicly it's independence !!, the first in the country 
to do so.) The prior listing of soldiers and their battle involvement shoes that 
even for a small town the level of involvement is quite high. I would hazard to 
say that the Tories within the Halifax lines would have either recanted or fled 
the town.^^^ 

The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, spread 
very rapidly throughout the area. When the report reached Boston, the bells of 
all the churches were rung and the news spread from town to town.^^^ 
( A full copy of the declaration was placed in the Halifax Town Recordbook - 
Book One, page 162-169) 

On Sunday, July 7, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was brought to 
Halifax and a copy of that was transcribed into the records of the town.^^^ The 

335 Qf Yga and Tories, by Kmssell, pages 15-16, 18ff. By 1778 there was passage of the Act of 
Banishment in the Colonies and in 1779, the Act of Confiscation, which in effect allowed the sale 
of the property of the Loyalists that supported the Crown and had fled. 

^^^ hi Cranberries and Cannonballs by Fredrika A Burrows, 1976, page 41, we find "Foundry near 
Titticut Bridge - order for cannon - 10 Feb. 1779, "You are requested to proceed to Titticut to 
prepare the metal fi*om the common ore for creating twenty twelve pounders for the ship Protector, 

^^^ The names of the Tories are difficult to find in the resources I have consulted for this study. Of 
note due to notoriety is the Dunbar Family, of which there were parents and seven or eight (young 
to middle-age children) living in Halifax, having moved in 1736 from Hingham. The treatment of 
the Family was made legend by oral lore and noted earlier in this narrative. The family was noted 
as such "Joseph Dunbar came to Halifax in 1736 <acc. To History of Hingham , Vol. II, page 
495,7,9>. Daniel Dunbar (b. 4/1/1732 in Hingham) was an ensign (and flagbearer) in the Halifax 
Militia. In 1774 "had his colors demanded of him by the mob, some of the selectmen being this 
chief actors. He refiised, and they broke into his house, took him out and forced him upon a rail, 
(for 3 hrs) . He was dragged and beaten, and gave up the standard to save his life. In 1776, he went 
to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The story of Jesse Dunbar was quoted earlier. . ." Loyalists of 
Massachusetts , by Jesse H. Stark (Jesse H Stark, 1910), page 421 "The Dunbar Family". Also in 
the militia was Lieut. Daniel Dunbar, . The only other name I found was a merchant named James 
Forrest who went to Boston and potentially a family with the last name Winslow. The Loyalists of 
Massachusetts , by E. Alfred Jones (Baltimore, The Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969) page 
137 and 138. 

^^ Ichabod, son of William Tupper living several miles away from Middleboro, hearing what had 
taken place, got up in the middle of the night and hurried to his father's house, and rapped on the 
window and shouted. Father all the bells are ringing between here and Boston, and we are free ! we 
are free!" The old man jumped out of bed and rushed to his window, and throwing it open, shouted 
at the top of his lungs, "The angels will sing for joy! ! !" Ibid, page 1 24. 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 138 

entire text was to be read in the churches 

of all "denominations" "the first Sabbath, which was that day. The gathered 
men and women in the meetinghouse in Halifax gathered for morning and 
afternoon worship would have had read to them the text of the Declaration of 
Independence that day. This goes far to attest to the fact that this document 
spread through the area very rapidly as this transcription is dated only three 
days after it was signed in Philadelphia. Of note this declaration was read in the 
Halifax Church at the first instance of a gathered congregation. Halifax would 
throw it's "hat" into the ring of freedom of the colonies solidly on the side of 
liberty from England. (See following for the text as imaged from the town 

As the fighting slowly turned against the British, as contests in the Middle I 
Atlantic and the South were being won, the ideal of liberty was realized and a 






■ /".-v. 

/<r fk-At't- A>i-*r/yr p^^mrtrt.i,^^'^"/. 

4 Me^ f^ 

Order that the Daclaration of Independance was to be 
read in all churchee . Dated July 1, 177S. Copy of 
the full Declaration is transcribed into the Halifax 
Town Records, Book One, pages 162-164 (Page 164 shown) 


With thanks to ''chronologist" William Perkins of Halifax in pinning down the day for this date. 


The History of the Hdifax Congregational Church 
new and free nation was set apart. 
Halifax had a town meeting in 
the meetinghouse on October 14, 
1776, to chose representatives to 







'^^tSUti^ma, ^ 

"^f^f^-^ mr 

form a new government. 
April of 1778 that new 
government was finally 
favorable (vote = 24+, 2 -) This 
process locally involved Rev. 
Briggs as well. ^'^^Each year 
from 1777 on the town 
appointed a committee to 
ascertain who has served and in 
what capacity from Halifax. 
Those that served in a certain 
capacity or duration were 
granted a tax abatement. 
Our efforts towards 
liberty had their challenges from 
the environment as well. In the 
winter of 1777-78, a tremendous 
outbreak of Smallpox in the 

Middleboro vicinity added to the death toll of the conflict. '"*^ Also in 1780 the 
weather took it's toll. In 1780 there was what's been titled the "Hessian Storm". 
Newport RI, had 18-20 foot drifts of snow and cold enough to make "Arctic 
fog", and the wind was strong enough to drive snow into the houses by whatever 
cracks in walls or doors there were. Soldiers froze to death at their posts 


Membership Transfer for DEACON OLIVER HOLMES 
dated June, 1788 <Halifax Cong. Ch. Archives> 


'^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 1 70. 

^^^ Ibid page 187 (4/1 1/1778) This was subsequently laid before the town on July 26, 1778 (page 
187 and 189). This discernment took some 1 !/2 years to accomplish. In March of 1780 ''Voted to 
chose a committee of seven to peruse the plan pf government and make objections... the Rev. Mr. 
Ephraim Briggs, Benjamin P arris, William Sturtevant, Moses Inglee, Cpt. Jessee Sturtevant, Isaiah 
Wood and Freeman Waterman were chosen as committee ". (Ibid page 193-3/6/1 780) and they 
voted in favor of the proposed government (5/27/1780) . 

^^^ IBID, page 174 and 176. {yXllMll, 4/1 1/1777, 6/2/1777). In this final meeting in 6/2/1777 an 
additional incentive of 1 50 "dollars" per man to fill up the quota for Halifax in the Continental 
Army and who would serve 3 years during the War. This is the earliest use of DOLLAR in the 
town records and church records. 

^^ History of the Town of Middleboro , page 575. This fear also was in Halifax . Noted in the 
Halifax Town Records, Book One, page 1 83 "Voted to set up an inoculation hospital m Halifax in 
case they can get a house suitable for that purpose.".; ."voted to leave it to the selectmen to get a 

TheHistory of the Halifax Congregational Church -140 

(British and American) and in Boston an 

entire oxen team was found frozen solid. The brig "Arnold" was blown 
completely ashore at Plymouth harbor. ^"^"^ 

Peace talks began in 1782, and in 1783 there was a peace treaty with 
Britain and Britain recognized the independence and sovereignty of America. 
^"^^ War-weary America could now get on with the task of forming a new society. 
Halifax can bury it's dead and begin to recast itself as a new community. As 
the church crossed it's 50**" Anniversary it did so in a brand new society and it is 
monumental that the town's 50*** Anniversary would also be America's 
Anniversary, July 4***. In Massachusetts there were 330 Congregational 
Churches. ^^ 

Unrecorded was likely the many funerals that Rev. Briggs had to perform in this 
timeframe. The list reveals that two church members died, and 70 or so died in 
the conflict, (see previous list of soldiers) Town records do have the vital 
account of marriages from this timeframe in Book one. Few records exist of 
transfers of membership either. 

The concluding seven years of this decade is a flurry of activity especially 
on the national level. The impact on the churches was dire. The population was 
centering its attention upon the formation of the new state. To quote Atkins and 
Flagley, " The Revolution had naturally speeded up the independent temper of 
the population and shifted centers of loyalty. Americanism began to displace 
provincialism. A new economic era was beginning. There was congressmen and 
presidents to elect. Politics of a pretty virulent type came into action. The 
churches and clergy lost in authority as they were seen in a new perspective. 
Hell began, very slowly, to be less vividly menacing at the terminals of village 
streets. Universalism became for a time a sort of catch-all for escapists from 
creeds they had come to hate, perhaps because they still feared them... 

What became New England Unitarianism was the most intellectually 
sophisticated of these movements... "^'^^ 

This all hints at a new perspective about and with respect to churches. Between 
1783 andl800 No new churches were formed in Connecticut, and fewer 
churches were formed in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that in any decade in 
the prior 90 years. Within this scenario was the fact in New England some of the 
meetinghouses had been damaged or destroyed and their repair had to be 
generated from scarce sources already being taxed for reconstruction. The 
result of faith's suffering from the growing religious diversity, and the inroads of 

^"^"^ Timetables of History, by Grun, "1 780". A similar storm hit in 1 786 in SE New England. 

Ludlum notes that in 1783, the average temperature plummeted in Feb, to -12 and remained for 7 

days . Early American Winters by Ludlum, page 66, 68. 

^"^^ Timetables of History , by Grun, page 363-4 

^^^ An Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches : 1620 to 1858, by Clarke, page 217. 

There were also in 1783 : 1 RC, 3 Universalists, 6 Quakers, 1 1 Episcopal, and 68 Baptist churches. 

^"^^ History of American Congregationalism , by Atkins and Fagley, page 129. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 141 

skepticism and so on, had caused church 

membership to decrease, and other fellowships to be divided. ^^^ Congregations 
either sought to recapture the old style harsh Calvinism that has been in place 
for the previous 150 years while others sought a new and more liberal approach. 
Sometimes these views collided within the came church body. ^^^ The 
Enlightenment has already corroded the Puritan ideal (on which New England 
Congregationalism has been built) Ahlstrom notes " The 'orthodox' churches 
were almost as thoroughly permeated by the tendency to rationalism and 
formalism, as those who they charged earlier with Armenianism ..." , the 
widening rift between liberals and conservatives as well as a split within the 
Conservatives themselves ( New Divinity (=Edwardian) vs Old Calvinists) would 
explode in the next decade and into the 1800's. 

In the years between 1776 and 1799, as the battle for liberty was being 
fought and as the new society was being formed, the established church was 
being stripped of it's support and prestige. In 1776 and 1784 compulsory 
taxation for support of the clergy and the church was set aside. In 1785, the 
basic guarantee of religious freedom was enacted. In 1799, the old glebe lands 
were returned to the public domain. All of this plugged into the First 
Amendment to the Constitution. ^^^ This Constitution was ratified in 1787 and 
the first ten amendments in 1791. ^^' In 1788 Isaac Soule and Isaac Thompson 

^"^^ The Shaping of American Congregationalism , by Von Rohr, page 206-7. In 1784, 
Massachusetts wished to unburden those who paid taxes for "other churches" that were not a part of 
the Congregational realm within the "Act for Securing the Rights of Conscience" passed in 1784. 
Also quoted in Clark ". . .there came upon the people a heavy load of labor, expense, in rebuilding 
altars broken down by the ravages of war, and in restoring the suspended means of Grace." An 
Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts from 1620 to 1858 , by Clarke, 
1858, page 2 1 7 and 222; also "the large number of young men withdrawn from the pursuits of 
honest industry to a military life ~ liberated from all Sabbath and sanctuary restraint to be 
associated with unprincipled foreigners, schooled from their youth to despise sacred things and 
laugh at the Bible, and live a vicious life ~ . . . that the war should have brought into New England a 
flood of corruption and errors in life and doctrine to which ordinary means of Grace would present 
a barrier. . . <eg. The desertion of the Sabbath, neglect of the Sanctuary and a disposition to 
evil....> Pages 219-220. 

^^^ "By the end of the period, church membership had dropped both relatively and absolutely, so 
that not more than one person in twenty, or perhaps one in ten have been afflicted, in many 
churches membership itself became increasingly nominal. Tory ministers fled. Patriot ministers 
often had their labors interrupted, their facilities appropriated for military use, disastrously affecting 
even the training of clergy. "Enthusiasm" was sidely spumed and revivalism came to a temporary 
halt everywhere. . ." Religious Historv of the American People, by Ahlstrom, Vol I, page 443. 
^^^ IBID, page 456. 

^^^ IBID, page 160; Massachusetts ratified the National Constitution on February 6, 1788, making it 
the 6^*^ state in the union. Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of Massachusetts . 
by Robert I Vexler, Ed, (Oceana Publications, Dobbs Ferry, NY, 1978) page 11. 

The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 142 

were members of the Constitutional 

Convention to adopt the Constitution of the United State. ^^^ By 1790, the 
Population of Halifax had dropped to 664. ^^^ 

Another destructive force was the near collapse of the local economy due 
to the lack of ships for fishing. The Fishing industry that was so central to this 
region had to be rebuilt from the beginning. In the late 1770's and 1780's 
Massachusetts cod fishermen had their vessels refitted for battle as privateers 
and the British had confiscated them, looted them of the gear, (or weapons) or 
had taken the entire vessel. The fishermen had to rebuild with new ships and 
gear, and there was little to no capital to support this refit. Some ships were 
sitting aground and had rotted away over the 7-8 years to the point of non- 
repair and uselessness even as parts for other potential vessels. Some were so 
antiquated that their usefulness was questionable. The entire base of the 
economy had to start at square "one". ^^"^ Still the playing field was different. 
The social hierarchy that pervaded the social landscape in England with various 
class structures rigidly in place, did not seem to apply in America. William 
Thomas notes " hierarchy was not as finite and fixed or as clearly 
defined as in the New World as it was in the Old. It was far more fluid and 
flexible in the American Colonies than in the Mother Country, England. A man 
could rise (and of course fall) as a result of his progress in life. ..." ^^^ On top of 
this the frontier was opening up and land speculation began to motivate some to 
purchase and sell land in Ohio. The Plymouth Journal and Advertiser of June 13, 
1786 in an article titled "Ohio Adventurers" denoting a group of venture 
speculators, (5) from a variety of local towns including "Capt. Jesse Sturdevant. 
Of Halifax" calling for interested folks to assemble "at the house of Nathan 
Alden, Innholder, in Middleborough, on the first Tuesday of July next, at ten 
o'clock in the forenoon... "^^^ Some of the lower population demographics were 
as a result of families moving to the frontier. Halifax continued to strengthen its 
infrastructure as in 1787 it was decided by the town to create and maintain five 
school districts and five schoolmasters. ^^^ The church also gained some new 
improvement as it was voted to pave near the meetinghouse. Specifically: 

" Voted to pave the fore side of the meetinghouse with small stones and that 
the selectmen agree with some person or persons to pave it and say how far it shall 

^" The History of Middleboro , page 542. 

^" Vital Records of the Town of Halifax , Mass, 1905, 

^^"^ Maritime History of Massachusetts ; 1783-1860 by Samuel Eliot Morison (Samuel L. Morison, 

1921), page 31 

Remarkable High Tories: Supporters of King and Parliament in the Revolutionary 
Massachusetts , by William H. B. Thomas (Heritrage Books, Bowie, MD, 2001), page 98. 
"^^^ Plymouth Journal, Volume 2, Issue LXV, page 3. 
^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book One, Page 230. (March 12, 1787) 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 143 

be paved also to mend the underpinning 
and to paint it where it needed it. " (November 30, 1 789)/^^ 

Commerce continued to dominate some of the town's social landscape and 
large projects were considered. In 1795, a canal was proposed from Monpossett 
Pond to Deacon Tomson's and this project was considered and re-considered 
over the next few years. ^^^ 

The faithfulness of the membership continued undaunted. The illustration 
of the 1791 Prayerbook of Mercy Sturtevant contains many readings to support 
faith and Christian endeavor. 



IBID, page 238. These repairs were voted to be done on November 18, 1793 according to town 
records on page 249. 


IBID, page 260 (May 25, 1795) 

Original Book in the Halifax Museum, Susan Basille, Historian. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 144 



1800 to 1850 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 145 

B) 1790- 1830 


The conclusion of the 1700's and the first decade of the 1800's was rife 
with challenge and changes. As the nation recalibrated it's political base in the 
formation of the new Constitution and the States also worked to ratify and put 
their mark on the new Republic, while the Congregational Churches had to 
find a new means of survival. ^^^ Their familiar base of popular dominance had 
been taken from them in the formation of the Republic under a Constitution 
that did not embrace state support of religious activity. The ability to Tax the 
entire town to support the church and minister had been taken away. ^^^ In the 
Halifax Church there was formed the "First Parish Society" in the 1780's (after 
1786) to coordinate the support of the pastor's Salary, to collect the taxes to 
support the church society and to handle other expenses in the management of 
the meetinghouse.^^^ In this period there was also the rise of denominationalism, 
whereby the Congregational Church in New England, although most numerous 
and most parochial in the fabric of the towns, was forced to recast it's existence 
in the light of other faith communities becoming legitimized. Even more so this 
was the time period of the growth of the faith systems of Unitarianism and 
Universalism, the increase of "liberalism", as well as the evangelistic impact of 
the "Second Great Awakening" that would serve to wrestle with most churches 
in their belief systems. This loss of primacy in the community would aid in the 
need to forge coordinative bodies and groups both for missionary activity as well 
as polity and the strengthening of ministerial credentials (and in a veiled sense, 
ministerial orthodoxy) and congregational orthodoxy. The challenges to the 
Churches in this period was nothing short of global in scope. All of this would 
propel the churches into the 1800's ready to take on the numerous challenges 

' The geographic boundaries of Plymouth County was revised in September of 1820. This was 
reported in specific in The New Bedford Mercury, Volume XTV, Issue 7, page 1 (New Bedford 
Massachusetts Newspaper) title - "from the Chronicle" dated September 1, 1820. Also 
Massachusetts was recast into new "divisions" for the purpose of selecting representation for the 
new US Congress. This is reported in The Medley or The Newbedford Marine Journal , Volume 2, 
Issue 36, page 1 "Sons of Massachusetts: Published by Authority: Districting Law".Dated July 14, 

This loss of primacy was part of a whole litany of losses experienced by the Congregational 
Churches in New England. Specifically: 

1776- Compulsory Taxation for support of the clergy was set aside. 
1785- Bacis guarantee of Religious Freedom was enacted in the Constitution. 
1799- "Glebe" Lands of the church were returned to the public domain. 
Religious History of the American People , Vol. 1. page 456. 

^^^ CHURCH RECORDS, Book Four "First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883", page 4-5. 
This group met on the V"^ "Monday at 1 PM in the Vestry, quarterly. . 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 146 

and opportunities that would present 

themselves. This 30 year period, albeit difficult, helped to forge the independent- 
based Congregational churches of Colonial New England into the Covenant- 
based churches that balanced both the sanctity of the local church as the basis of 
faith, mission and polity, as well as the empowerment of coordinative and self- 
regulatory meta-bodies that served them. The "denomination" was being 

The Second Great Awakening began in the 1790's in New England with 
scattered renewals and revivals of piety in various towns. The revitalization 
would not have had any vivacity if there had not been a growth of adherence to 
a variety of faith systems that were quite different that the orthodox churches. 
A "liberal" revolution in the late 1780's spurned a response from the orthodox 
churches. Gradually churches in Eastern Massachusetts seemed to gravitate 
towards more liberal faith stance, and the general weakness of the ministerial 
associations of the churches allowed this subtle change to happen unchallenged 
for the most part. It was in 1792 that these associations began to take on the 
licensing of candidates for ministry, in order the assist the churches in holding to 
a stronger orthodoxy. ^^ This more liberal viewpoint affirmed that Christian life 
was a "continuous rational process of self-dedication" , that the "difference 
between the 'communicant and non-communicant' was seen as undemocratic 
...", and "The Lord's Supper was regarded as simple memorial", rather than a 
"sacramental means of Grace" or a "converting ordinance". Indeed the 
capstone was that Humanity "worked out his own salvation and suffered just 
deserts (as a free agent)". ^^^ This view continued to press orthodoxy and 
eventually was extrapolated into Unitarianism, which became in time one 
paradigm anathema of the orthodox faith. Two events seeded this polarization 
in Eastern Massachusetts; The recasting of Harvard University in the liberal 
faith (1803), and Jedadiah Morse's Coalition of men who would found a new 
school in Andover, Massachusetts, to became a rallying point for the orthodox 
faith in New England. This would eventually become Andover Theological 
Seminary. IN this period a variety of scholarly books were offered, like Samuel 

^^ "Letters of commendation from experienced pastors, which young ministers would naturally 
take when going among churches as a candidate, gradually assumed the form and authority of 
credentials, till in 1790, the Convention of Congregational Ministers, virtually made them 
necessary, be recommending that only those bearing such papers from clerical bodies be admitted to 
the pulpit. Thus the business of testing the qualifications of a young man for the ministry silently 
and gradually passed from the churches to the clergy, where the sole responsibility now rests." An 
Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in Massachusetts , by Clarke, 1 858. , page 228. 
^^^ RelJKious History of the American People , by Ahlstrom, Vol. I, pages 474-6. IN effect this 
Second Awakening CREAl ED and STRENGTHENED a rift between liberalism and conservatism 
in New I^ngland Churches. Attacks on the various "confessions" and concepts of God & humanity, 
the human-divine relationship, the Divine parenthood's benefit of "wrath" and numerous other 
flashpoints. . 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 147 

Hopkins' "System of Doctrines" in 1793, 

likely the first systematic Theology in the country, and certainly on that is based 
on the Edwards' theology of the First Great Awakening. Locally to Halifax, 
was Nathaniel Emmons of Franklin, MA, who had at his rural church the 
tutoring of 87 students in ministry, who were strongly indoctrinated into 
orthodox point of view, and who learned to fight against Armenians, 
Universalists, Unitarians and a "whole diverse band of eighteenth century 
infidels." ^^^ 

The Awakening began in Central CT primarily due to some in Yale and 
multiplied mainly in the Baptist and Methodist groups initially between 1797 
and 1801. This religious movement, although as powerful as the first 
Awakening had less ecstasy in service and sermon. The "fruits of conversion, 
moreover, were incontestably shown in renewed spiritual seriousness and 
reformation of morals. This helps most of all to account for the sustained 
character of the Second Awakening, and shows that the clergy were not being 
simply prudish in their gratitude for the prevailing sobriety" ^^^ Although 
quieter in format, this period was not less of a time of revival for the churches. 
It grew in solidarity, vehemence and directness as the more liberal faith grew in 
opposition as well in following and diversity .^^^ Religious experimentalism 
began in the 1810's to include the commune based communities that began to 
flourish. ^^^ 

In the 1790's in Massachusetts, the Baptists lobbied hard for the 
disestablishment of the Congregational church as the taxation-based support for 
all populations in the towns, even members of the other churches. This 
separation of support was not passed in Massachusetts until 1833, until which 

^^^ IBID, page 499. On page 501, Ahlstrom is noted to say, "The logic of Calvinistic piety was 

being transformed into a vast, complicated and colorless theological structure, bewildering to it's 

friends and ridiculous to its enemies." 

^^^ IBID, page 506-7. ",. .. And to the calmness of the results was that the revivals were seen as the 

very fact, God's work Not Man's. The God who had spoken to Abraham was speaking to New 

England. The main street of any village led to Jerusalem the Golden. This was an exciting fact , 

yet the revivals were without the hysteria and commotion that had brought the Great Awakening 

into disrepute in many quarters. . .." 

"Within the period of 5-6 years not less than 100 and 50 churches in New England were visited in 

times of refreshment from the presence of the Lord" (New England Revivals by Robert Taylor 

(Boston, 1846), page V. 

^^^ The iniusion of "French Infidelity into the American Army during the Revolutionary War. .. 

The Consequences was a succession of revivals in various parts of CT and MA. Which though 

small in comparison,., were of immeasurable importance in the subsequent influence.... It gave 

back. ... it gave birth to those missionary movements. . . and brought into a being a whole family of 

benevolent societies. " An Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts , by 

Clarke, page 230-1. 

^^^ Ibid , page 593 ff 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 148 

time The Congregational church stopped 

expecting support universally from the town tax revenues. Add to this the 
revivalism of evangelist Charles Finney. ^^^ 

Another facet in this complex picture was the added organizational groups 
put together in this time by churches to serve themselves in many ways. The 
Formation of Associations, Consociations and other formalized groups began to 
supercede the informal '^ministerial associations" that had become somewhat 
ineffective, weak, easily controlled and non-consistent. 

"The General Association of Massachusetts Proper vf2i^ formed in 1802/1803 and 
met annually with representatives from various Congregational ministers* 
groups in MA in attendance. This group was Trinitarian Congregational in 
organization, and was one of the forerunners of today's MACUCC. The GAMP 
created the ABCFM in 1810. Over time , the GAMP grew in strength; it strove 
to be state-wide and became a rallying point for Trinitarian Congregationalists 
in the midst of the splits with Unitarianism. When Maine became its own state, 
the word "Proper" was dropped from its name In the early 1800's, 
but somewhat after the formation of the GAMP, Congregational churches began 
to form what was called CONFERENCES. The first of these was in Maine , if I 
recall correctly. They paralleled what we today in the UCC think of as 
Associations. For example, on the Cape, Congregationalists formed the 
Conference of Churches in Barnstable County in 1828 [forerunner to today's 
Barnstable Association of the MACUCC]. In the early 19th century, 
Congregational clergy in the BERKSHIRE ASSOCIATION of ministers 
strongly criticized one of their colleagues and his church for wishing to sever 
their relationship after a SHORT PASTORATE of only TEN YEARS? Called to 
meet with that church and its minister in a dismissing Ecclesiastical Council, 
those clergy noted that such "...quick changes made for spiritual weakness in 
both the community and the ministry." 

....Today's MACUCC is indebted to the clergy and churches in BROOKFIELD 
and SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES on two counts? The Brookfield 
Association of Congregational clergy was formed on June 22, 1757~one of the 
earliest Congregational clergy groups in the Commonwealth. In 1802, this clergy 
Association initiated and led the effort to form the GENERAL ASSOCIATION 
OF MASSACHUSETTS PROPER. Years later, on June 13, 1821, this same 
Brookfield Association welcomed lay representatives from their churches into 
their membership, at which point the group's name was changed to the 
Brookfield Associational Conference. This new organization of clergy and lay 
church representatives was the FIRST ASSOCIATION [then called a 
"Conference"! '" Massachusetts Congregationalism. In 1827, a creed was 
written for the churches in this Conference. In 1887, this Conference divided to 
form two separate organizations: the Brookfield Conference for area churches 

Shaping of American Congregationalism , by Von Rohr, page 207 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 149 

and their clergy and a Brookfield area 

minister's group. Today, that Brookfield Conference is part of the CENTRAL 
ASSOCIATION, one of eleven such Associations in our modern MACUCC. 
The town of Halifax grew throughout this period of time. In 1800 the 
population stood at 642 at its lowest since 1776, but grew steadily in the early 
1800s^^^ The industry of the region was still agricultural and industrial; as the 
iron furnace still received the iron sifted from the bog deposits. The primeval 
forests were likely gone by this point but shipbuilding was gearing up in nearby 
Kingston by the Drew Family, although charcoal production continued. ^^^ The 
Herring caught in the local streams were now regulated (1818-19) due to 
increased scarcity area wide and there was some attempt to get this lifted.^^"* The 
cultivation of the wild cranberry plant began in the late 1810's into the 1820's in 
Halifax. The many bogs locally would prove to be an economic bonanza in years 


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Congregational Heritage of the Massachusetts Conference Rev. Dr. Douglas K. Showalter, (2002-2003,) 
According to Clarke, it was in July, 1 802 that the General Association was formed "No General 
Associations were organized till a convention, held in Northhampton in 1 802, agreed upon a basis- 
"and "recommended it to the 8 District Associations therein represented". Also "In spring of 
1804, the Convention of Congregational Ministers- discussed the idea of a General Association 
further - 'to promote harmony in our churches to certain rules and modes of discipline in our 
churches, ' " An Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts , by Clarke, 
Pages 237-8. 

^^^ Vital Records of Halifax. Massachusetts , notes, in 1810 the population was at 703 and in 1820 
stood at 749 !! 

^^^ Large frigate battleships such as the Constitution were built in the 1810' s. The massive anchor 
of the Constitution was forged in Kingston. 

^^'^ Reported in the New Bedford Mercury , Volume XII, Issue 3 1 , page 2 (New Bedford 
Newspaper) dated February 19, 1819, Title - "Legislature of Massachusetts" Report dates this at 
February 1 in the article. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 150 

to come. ^^^ The period of 1798 to 1815 

was full of weather challenges too ^^^ for example, in 1799 Halifax selectmen 
voted that ^^each person shall clear the snow from the road to make the road 
passable". ^^^The interconnectivity of the communities was improving. In 1821 

^^^ CRANBERRIES -Native Americans dried them and mixed them with venison and melted fat to 
make small, portable trail cakes called pemmican - arguably the country's first convenience food, an 
early granola bar. They also used the berries to dye clothing and blankets and for a poultice so 
astringent it could draw infection from wounds. Despite their blood-red color, cranberries were 
considered symbols of harmony and peace. Some Native American religious leaders were known as 
Pakimintzen^ or "Cranberry Eaters," who served the berries to consummate peace pacts at intertribal 
feasts. Colonial leaders followed suit, capitalizing on a vogue the American cranberry achieved in 
17th-century London. In 1677, when King Charles II was angry at the colonists for making their own 
coins, the Massachusetts General Court ordered "tenn barrells of cranburyes" sent to appease the 
royal wrath. The Indians called the cranberry sasemineash (sharp, cooling berry). But Pilgrims 
supplied its modem name. Its delicate, pale pink blossoms and stamen reminded them of cranes, so 
they dubbed it "craneberry," later shortened to cranberry. New Englanders boiled the berries with 
sugar and ate them as a sauce, which became wildly popular. In a chapter of Joseph Thomas's 
Cranberry Harvest, historian Constance Crosby describes the sauce as "the great democratizer of 
American cuisine," because in the early 1800s, Yankees rich and poor "ate it cold at virtually every 
meal, with fish, fowl, meat and even lobster." In an 1808 memoir, a Frenchman who visited Boston 
complained about Americans' nonstop consumption of cranberry sauce, "vulgarly called cramberry 
sauce, from the voracious manner in which they eat it," he maintained. 

Soon some enterprising Yankees began growing the berries commercially. The first was Henry Hall, a 
retired sea captain who owned a salt works in Dennis near a pond where wild cranberries thrived. He 
noticed that when sand drifted onto the vines, they seemed to grow bigger and juicier. Around 1816, 
he began transplanting wild vines to other sections of his property, which he cleared, sanded, and 
fenced, forming what he called "cranberry yards." They 3ielded a promising crop. 

376 1 79g_99 = Long Winter with severe snows and wind on Dec. 2,8-9,1 1,19 with severe cold 

(Charlestown = -11 degrees.). 

1 802- Gale wind and snow with 2-3 feet accumulated ! Ships grounded in SE Mass. 

1 803 - Snow and wind in May ! ! 

1 804 - February 1 8-29 = Successive storms including A VERY SEVERE SNOW STORM ON 
THE 23-24^" 2-3 feet of snow. . Later that year in October (9*) there was what is called a snow 
Hurricane that began as heavy rain and switched over to snow and remained snowing solidly until 
the 13"^. 

1 805= severe and sustained cold (Below zero) 

1 807= severe cold in January of-16 or more ., April Fools Day Storm = 2-4 feet of heavy snow. 

(Bridge in New Bedford was damaged by snow weight) 

1810 = severe cold wave sustaining temps -7 or more for 4-5 days. 

1811= Deeply cold for days with 12 inches of snow. 

1815= Cold wave climaxes on January 3 1 ^^ with temps -1 5 or lower. Especially in E. 

Massachusetts. In September there was "The Great September Gale" and it had a 1 8 foot storm 

surge into Rhode Island . 

1816 "Year without a summer"- Snow in June; Frosts each summer month and crops froze all 
over New England 

1 81 7 - Feb - April - Cold and regular 10-14" snowfalls that piled up over time. . 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Two, page 5. The horrible winters of 1 798 and 9 likely made this 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 151 

the Taunton Stage traveled the 

Bridgewater Path three times a week "through East Bridgewater to Plymouth" 
but by 1829 a new stage path that stopped in Halifax was begun (three times a 
week) going from Bridgewater on to Kingston and Plymouth. ^^* The mails 
were still slow. Halifax Mail arrived at the Plymouth Post Office and the letters 
retained until they were picked up. There was no "Rural Free Delivery" and no 
post office in Halifax. Received letters were listed in the weekly newspaper so 
people could go and retrieve them. 

Into the heady mix of changes was the added complexity of the formation 
of "denominations".^^^ As hinted before, the dominance and priority of the 
"congregational" church in New England was being disassembled. In it place 
was a catalogue of church types previously seen as inferior. The members of the 
Halifax Church, even though in a rural and small-church setting had to contend 
with these changes in status, in the overall position of other church bodies, and 
in the changing of the basis of faith expression itself. ^^^ It is important to realize 
the context in which our church existed was in tremendous flux, and the way of 
"business as normal" had to adapt. This period of time also embodied a 
collection of missionary-based organizations that gave a direction to the 
independent churches' outreach as much as it gave notice to others of the 
vivacity of this church group. The monopolistic Congregational outreach to the 
Native Americans became competitive with outreach to other groups and by 
other church groups such as the Baptists and Methodists for example."^^^ There 
were also cooperative measures such as the American Home Mission Society 
(ecumenical) , American Bible Society, the American Sunday School Union, The 
Lord's Day Alliance and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign 
Missions are but a few major players founded in this period of time. This 
outreach spirit was a direct product of the Second Great Awakening's zeal to 
touch the world for the sake of Christ. Even the cooperative nature of the 
founding of Andover Theological Seminary was new with a set percentage of 

edict be put forth. (The town would pay residents for this work). 

^^^ see the Old Colony Reporter (Newspaper- Plymouth MA) Volume 1, Number 5, May 2, 1821, 

and Volume 7, Number 45, dated January 31, 1829 (started on December 8*, 1828) . 

^^^ Denominationalism by Russel E. Richey, editor, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN, 1977) page 

109ff "In an essay titled "The forming of a Modem American Denomination", Ellwyn Smith says 

"The established meaning of 'denomination' until the nineteenth century equated it with any 

religious grouping; but between 1790 and 1840 it acquired a more specialized modem definition". 

hi the Massachusetts Constitution (1780) it is found ". . .and no subordination of any one sect or 

denomination shall ever be established by Law." 

In fact there were changes in Music in the church as choirs were coming to use with anthems and 
instrumentation. Hymns were being composed and used. 

^^^ The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was actually formed as early a 1649 and in New 
England worked to support the education of the Indians; and continues in today in Canada due to a 
government grant received early on. It was reconstituted in New England in 1 810. Religious 
Historv of the American People , Vol. 1, pages 504 and 514. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 152 

professors from Congregational churches 

and so forth. ^^^ Additionally in 1810, there was the genesis of foreign missions 
and the founding of the Massachusetts Missionary Society (This group had 
actually been active on a smaller scale since May, 1799 -^^^ ). BV the midst of this 
context of change, New England Congregationalists worked hard to maintain its 
provincial position regionally, yet the Awakening and the draw of liberal or non- 
traditional societies, and a trend of popular exodus to the frontier in the West 
and North was accelerating, all of which would leech members and funds.^*"* 

It was in the final month of the year 1799 that the record hiatus in the 
church records ends. With sadness it is recorded " December 22, 1799 : "Rev 
Ephraim Briggs deceased in the 64*** year of his age and in the thirty third year 
of his ministry in this place". Indeed he had left a mark on the life of the 
community as pastor, peacemaker and as tutor for several. ^^^ The only sermon 
that has survived was an 1796 ordination sermon for his son in Chatham. 
(Original in the Congregational Library in Boston). 

Given the death of Rev. Briggs, the church met on March 24, 1800, to 
organize itself for the interim period. The Associational ideal of "credentials" 
was used here as the potential candidates evidently presented them and the 
church body chose those they wanted to interview and hear preach. At a 
meeting on July 1^\ the choice was narrowed down to two, Mr. Solsborough and 
Mr. Richmond.^^^ Between this meeting and the next one on July 17**' the 
candidates likely preached a sermon and spoke at length with the church. A 
choice needed to be made and so on July 17***, 1800 it was voted to give Rev. Abel 
Richmond an invitation to come to Halifax as pastor. There was only one 
dissenting vote in the church body against Richmond. The town's vote also on 
July 17*'' was 48+ and 9- and Moses Inglee, Deacon Joseph Tomson, Capt. 
Zedadiah Tomson, Dr. Nathaniel Morton were chosen as a joint town-church 
committee to go to Mr. Richmond and relay the decision. His reply is illustrated 
above. As an incentive, Mr. Richmond was given the use of the town land 
"adjoining Dr. Morton for a parsonage if he settle in the work of the ministry 
and as long as he is our minister." 

^^^ Denomination, by Richie, page 121-2. 

^^^ An Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts , by Clarke, page 229. 

^^'' The Social Sources of Denominationalism by H. Richard Niebuhr, (New American Library, 

1929) pages 153 ff 

^^^ CR, Book One, page 148. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book two, page 1 1 dated July 1, 1800. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Two, page 12. This would relate the fact that the prior parsonage 

was either rented or sold outright (by the town as no church records are available to date) and so 

this was the Second parsonage use by the pastors in Halifax. This land was likely in some state of 

uncleamess as a note on May 31,1 802, shows the town needing to "settle the line round the 

parsonage and establishing a bound.. ." Halifax Town Records , Volume 2, page 26. (Samuel 

Sturtevant was chosen to the task in a Nov. 1 , meeting (page 27) ). It is of interest that Rebecca 

Briggs was also a teacher locally. An April 30, 1794 Town Record (Book one, according to the 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 153 

He was a hard working clergyman 
who was a graduate of Brown University in 1797. I would consider the fact that 
Harvard, where prior clergy were sought, had begun to lean too far to the 
"liberal side" 
and so pressed 
the church to 
seek leadership 
elsewhere. In 


^ . -^.... 

/ iJmm*** 

^^»>fVr. ^A .T"^ ^<" 



{\S'^) the 

church sought 

seven other 


nearby to assist 

in the 

ordination of 

Rev. Richmond 

in Halifax. In 


with the town's committee, the date of the ordination was set for October 8*^ at 

which time he was ordained at the Halifax Church.^^* Mr. Richmond had been 

in place and functional since summer but his ministry was now officially up and 

running. ^^^ Within weeks Rev. Richmond had had his first Baptism as well as 

his first new members join the fellowship. ^^^ In fact over the following three 

years there were a large number of baptisms and new members joining. < 

Baptized 44 and welcomed 25 people ^^^ > Also, there was an indication that the 

Handwritten notes of Guy Baker, Halifax Historical Museum) it is noted Rebecca was compensated 
for school teaching in 1791-1794. (1794 she was paid £ 10 16s). 

^^^ He was actually examined by a "council" on October 7*^ as to his doctrine and capability and 
then the following day (10/8) proceeded to ordain him. The council also examined the nature of the 
call by the church as well as the town's part of it's deliberations. The Ordination was as follows : 
Introductory Prayer and sermon = Rev. Mr. Miles of Abingdon, The Ordaining Prayer = Mr. 
Sanger of South Parish Bridgewater; The Right Hand of Fellowship and Charge = Mr. Barker of 
Middleboro; Concluding Prayer = Mr. Strong of Randolph. See also Halifax Town Records . 
Book Two, page 15 dated September 15, 1 800, (and page 199). 


Halifax Church Records , Book ONE, page 148. 

Phoebe Bourn (d of Ebenezer) was baptized on 1 1/16/1800, and Betty Holmes was admitted into 
membership on 1 1/30. CR, Book One, pages 148-9 
^^' Baptisms = 44 

1801- Jan 4'*' - Clarissa Tomson (d of Reuben) , 5/31- Priscilla Rider (w of Nathaniel) , Paul 
Sturtevant, Winslow Sturtevant,; 6/7 - Martha, Jonathan, Lemuel and Joanna Clark (ch of 
Elizabeth), 6/14 - Bela, Josiah, Abigail, Patience, Lydia and David Bosworth (ch of David), Sarah, 
Saphrona snd Charles Sturtevant (ch of Winslow) ; 6/21 - Rhoda Reed (d of Zadok); Deborah, 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 154 

Halifax Church had decided to embrace 

the more "orthodox" position of faithfulness. This is shown in the continuation 
of disciplinary actions in the pastorate of Rev. Richmond. Confessions were 
received publicly on 6/6/1803 and 8/25/1803. In particular was the suspension of 
the availability of Communion for Winslow Sturtevant on 5/24/1805 "for the 
space of six months till they might use greater means with him" (Passed since he 
refused to make a public confession for falsehood and intemperance). ^^^ This 
shows that the ministry of Rev. Richmond is well in the "orthodox" camp of the 
conservative-orthodox vs. liberal debate. Within this sphere of time (1803 to 
1820) there was a huge flurry of activity. Many Baptisms and new members 
entered the church as Rev. Richmond used the drumbeat of revival from the 
start of his ministry until the late 1820's. ^^^ 

This venerable meetinghouse had been in need of some TLC since before 
the arrival of Rev. Richmond in Halifax. In 1798-99 there was a move to put in 
"square glass" into the windows". This hints at the possibility that the windows 
were shuttered but not glazed with glass although some indication in Mr. Guy 
Baker's noted that there may have been small diamond shaped windows in some 
places. This was a large enough project that it was thought to tax those who 
owned pews and the town suggested "voted ,,„give them the offer to glaze their 

Saba and Nancy Sturtevant (ch of Paul); 7/26- Lucy Waterman, Robina Wood; 8/16 - Bethiah 
Samson, Betty, Melsar and Fanny Waterman (ch of Isa), 10/18- Clara, Francis (Wood), and 
William Bourn (ch of Newcomb); 10/25 - Jane Thomson (w of Zaccheus) , Joseph Bosworth (s of 
Richard) , 1 1/1 - Clara, Atwood, Susana, Loma Thomson (ch of Jane), 1 1/8 - Nancy Fuller (d of 

1802- 7/25 - Phoebe Waterman ( d of Isaac), 8/29 - Betty Sears Carter ; 1 1/7/= Elizabeth Hart (d 
of Joseph Joslin); 11/21 - Eli Sturtevant ( s of Winslow) 

1 803 - Nehemiah Bosworth (s of David); 8/14 - Hannah Waterman (d of Paul Sturtevant), "Unez 
(likely Eunice) Bourn (d of Newcomb) 10/15- Cheribiah Cortheral (s of Cheribiah) 
New Members = 25 

1801= 4/26- Hannah Fuller, Ichabod Thompsn, Richard Bosworth. ; 5/31- Priscilla Rider, David 
and Patience Bosworth, Paul Sturtevant, Winslow Sturtevant, Elizabeth Clark, Molly Haul.; 7/26 - 
Lucy Waterman, Lydia Fuller, Robina Wood, Abish Samson, Jr., 9/27- Newcomb and Duncina 
Bourne, 10/25 - Thankful Fuller, Jane Thomson, 

1802= 2/14 - Ichabod Bosworth, ; 6/27 - Deborah Leach; 7/25 - Rebena Leach, Phoebe 
Waterman; 8/29 

1 803= Betty Sears Carter; 4/2 1 ; 8/28 - Zilpah Whitman , 1 0/30 - Betty Sturtevant 
CR, Book One, pages 149-151 

■'^^ This is helpful in our reflection on the view of pro-orthodoxy of the church family in the 
energies used to follow practices of orthodox teaching and use of the sacrament as a means of 
control. In fact there would be three disciplinary actions that year around the issue of 
intemperance. CR, Book One, page 151. 

"^'^^ Quoting Mrs. Lucy Waterman at 95 years old as she remembered the revival of 1812-13 said " 
The revival lasted a year. 30 joined the church the first communion, 19the next, and 10 the next It 
was the biggest revival ever held here. In all there were more than 100 converted and added to the 
church..." History of Halifax by Guv S. Baker (Guy S. Baker, 1976) 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 155 

windows with some glass and if they neglect 

or refuse the committee may stop their windows up, " ^^^ Subsequently in 1803, 
the town chose a committee to ^^perambulate the line round the meetinghouse lot 
and to fix the bound to said lot. <Cpt. John Waterman and Lieut. Samuel 
Sturtevant were chosen.> The next spring the town voted to "clear" the lot of 
trees and to do this without expense of the town. There must have been a 
specifically large tree as it was an issue enough to receive its own vote to be 
taken down. ^^^ The Old windows, repaired or replaced some 14 years before, 
were dispensed with as well as the "old measures and damaged powder". ^^^ 

Within Rev. Richmond's tenure was the War of 1812. In all there is little 
evidence that any of the conflict happened in the Halifax environs, although 
there are three notes of historical interest. The local militia were on alert if the 
necessity came from the British navel blockade or vandalism of the docks in 
Plymouth and Kingston, but no records of anyone specifically enlisted is in the 
records of the church, the Anchor of the USS Constitution was made in the 
Kingston shipyards likely with iron supplied from Halifax furnaces and bogs !, 
and third, there were two men from Halifax captured as sailors (unknown 
names) and served by enslavement aboard British ships during the war 
period.^^^ Off the coast of Kingston was the HMS Shannon blocking the port.^^^ 
The War of 1812 had little imprint on the area. It was just prior to this conflict 

^^"^ Halifax Town Records , Volume 2, pages 1-4 (May 14, 1798 - March 4, 1799. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Volume 2, page 30. dated May 3, 1803. ) and page 47 (April 6, 1803). 

The "oak tree" was slated for removal and it was located on the "east end of the meetinghouse" 

(May 9, 1803). 

^^^ This may well refer to leakage of rainwater or snowmelt inside the meetinghouse which ruined 

the town's ammunition stores. It was prudent to have gunpowder in sufficient quantity. (Halifax 

Town Records, Book Two, page 93, dated May 13, 1813. ) 

^^^ Massachusetts Volunteer Militia in the War of 1812 (copy found in the Halifax Museum), page 

95 notes the following "Capt. A. Thompson's Company, Lieut. Col. S. Town Regiment. From 

Sept., 1812 to Oct 30, 1814. Service at Boston. The Rank and name are recorded as follows: 

Asa Thompson . Capt. Nehemiah Thompson , Lieut Isaiah Ripley, Sgt. 

Cephas Thompson , Sgt. Adam Thompson , Sgt. Giles Thompson , Sgt. 

Jabez P. Thompson , Corp. Oran Freeman, Corp. Zadoc Churchill, Corp. 

Eliab Thompson . Corp. Samuel Bryant Musician Zebulon Thompson . Musician 

Jabez Soule , Musician Zadoc Thompson , Musician 

Benjamin Bearse Newcomb Bearse John Bradford Lewis Briggs 

Cephas Bryant Joseph Hall Elijah Johnson Marquis F. Joslin 

Joshua Lyons Stillman Pratt Oliyer Richmond Ezra Rider 

Josiah Sears Caleb Sturtevant Ward Sturtevant Nehemiah Thompson 

Ward Thompson Ephraim Tilson John Wood " 

< Underlined Names were members of the Halifax Congregational Church > 

Remarkable High Tories, by WilUam Thomas, page 238. The Shannon is described as a "full 
rigged, three masted frigate, rated 38 guns.... commanded by Philip Broke." 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 56 

that Rev. Richmond and his wife Ruth 

(Sturtevant) had their children (Abel - b. 26 Nov. 1810 & Ruth - b 19 Apr. 
1808). Pension records tallied in the town records reveal about 30 men were 
involved in the militia likely and town support was forthcoming for them. ^^^ 

On April 4***, 1814, there was a town vote to establish a "singing school" in 
Halifax, referring to a chorus at the church. This is in line with the new hymns 
circulating in Christendom from various legendary composers such as Isaac 
Watts and so on. Singing leadership in churches would move more to the 
forefront of the worship experience and Halifax seems to have taken advantage 
of this. In fact two years later the town voted to "make a pew for the women 
singers at the upper end of the singer's seats". ^^^ There was a swelling pride in 
the church and the town considered the needs of the meetinghouse as it needed 
roof repairs, glass replaced and a new lock on the door. It was also decided to 
add a new porch on the front of the building. Additional improvements were the 
eventual construction of horse sheds "nigh to the meetinghouse" put forth in 

1819. By this time lanterns were in use as the costs of lamp oil and wicks began 
to be recorded. Soon thereafter notations of fuel for a stove was also first 
mentioned. "^^^ They were to be placed near "Mr. Hall's Store". Perhaps this is 
the place where the hearse purchased by the town (April 6, 1817) was to be 
stored? *^^ As the timber and shingles were not procured until the spring of 

1820, it is likely the meetinghouse continued to need repairs for another year or 
more. In fact not only was a porch added, so was a belfry decided upon in 1820. 
^^^ Inside the meetinghouse it was also decided to paint it and to number the 



^^^ Halifax Town Records , Volume 2, page 108, dated April 15, 1815, notes a total outlay of $41.76 

at a rate of $3.46 per person, and $16.40 outlay for those who "served in July and August". 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book 2, page 100. The additional seats are found solicited on page 117- 

118. (May 13, 1816). 

^^^ Halifax Society Records , Book One, page 119. Stove fuel was mentioned starting on 4/7/1 824. 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records , Volume 2, page 120 - discussion of the repairs of the meetinghouse 

(June 15, 1816 and September 9, 1816) , Page 154, 156 and 159 for discussions concerning the 

location and construction of the "stables" or sheds. (March 15, 1819, April 15, 1819). The 

purchase of the hearse for use in Halifax was to procure a vehicle "as good as sixty dollars will 

purchase" and Mr. Thomas Drew was chosen to purchase it. (page 145) 

^^^ The repairs to the roof and windows were supported by the town but the proposed new porch and 
the added belfry were to be supported by subscriptions by the pewholders. Halifax Town Records, 
Book two, pages 174-5 (September 4, 1820), page 183 (Dec. 11, 1820), and 193-4(1821). It was 
also decided to procure stones and underpin the church. On page 196 (August 13, 1821), the pew 
holders were again solicited to support this expense as well. The stone was quarried from "Major 
Drew's" . TTie Town records say ''voted to give Major Drew the stone left round the meetinghouse 
after the repair of said house for the stone sot off his land. ". These repairs begin to add fiirther 
"character" to the building making it indeed a town centerpiece. 

^^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Two page 196. (September 24, 1821). The pews were likely being 
moved around a bit as there are notations of keeping the gallery pews the same and in the lower 
section to move the pews back. There was a move to purchase window openings for the lower part 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 157 

Interestingly enough Halifax came 
close to be the County Government's seat! Records show serious discussion in 
1819 to relocate the Plymouth County Courthouse and County buildings more 
centrally and therefore Halifax was considered as a potential locale. The bid for 
this failed. "^^^ This was also a time for care of the needy by the town, a 
movement of compassion that started in the mid 1820's and I suspect the 
difficulties brewing at the church coupled with a lack of church funds for 
benevolence spurned this need"*"^. 

Rev. Richmond was supported by various means. The church at their 
initial negotiations with Rev. Richmond agreed to give him all the ^'Hay and 
cider from the parsonage land". ^^^ One mode of support was a tax on the people 
who were members in which ^^assessors" would go into the parish and would 
evaluate the assets of a person and from that would establish the "tax" to be 
levied on their family to support the church and minister. Folks who did not pay 
their assessments, were handed over to a "Bondsman" who collected four cents 
on the dollar of owed funds, although these rates were negotiable. Another 
means of support of the church was the sale of pews annually to defray the cost 
of repair to the church. These taxes and pew sales also supported the work of the 
sexton, whose work was very challenging. In the church records we have an 
1824 hire of Asaph Bosworth " as Bell Ringer and Custodian" His tasks were to 
toll the bell for the community and worship services, also for meetings, funerals 
and on notice of a person's death; also to sweep the church monthly, to clean 
away snow to the main road." (CR, Book Four, page 5, 7) Another hire was a 
"singing master" to lead music in the church. This may be a musician as well as 
a conductor of the people. The development of the use of music predates the 
church in New England. "^^^ In 1824, the Town voted to purchase two and a half 

of the meetinghouse windows and to cut an entryway into the belfiy from underneath. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Two, page 158, dated April 5, 1819. 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records Book Two (1795-1825) page 272 (5/3/1825) voted to see if all the town 

poor could be put all together to care for them ("at the lowest bidder"). Those in contention for the 

care are listed as Ephraim Timkham, Patience Wade, Polly Pratt, and Allen Sturtevant. Nehemiah 

Bosworth bid lowest that year and the carewas to include: clothing "victualing, Doctor Bill and 

nursing". In 1 827, Stafford Sturtevant was given $505 to support the poor and his list added 

Funeral Charges to the list of duties. (Book Three, 1827-1842, page 4) 

"^^^ Halifax Tovm Records , Volume 2, page 10. dated November 3, 1800. Of course this means the 

existence of an orchard as well as hayfields. 

"^^^ Ainsworth's version of the Psalms was used at Plymouth until 1692 and then the "New England 

Psalm Book" came into use afterwards there. The practice was to have the deacons (who sat in 

front facing the congregation) line off the Psalms that the congregation was to sing continues into 

the early to mid 1700's. In the latter half of the 1700's a revolution of sorts happened around the 

"singing habits" of New England Churches. Choirs were formed, musical instruments began to 

come in . . . Bass Viols, which were sometimes contemptuously called "big fiddles" were for many 

years a great source of annoyance to some of the old people..." Yearbook of the Congregational 

Churches of Massachusetts, year=1877, "Historical Survey of Churches, 1776-1876" by Rev 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 158 

dozen "Psalm Books" for the use of the 

singers to be kept in the Meetinghouse." "^^^The Year 1824 seems to have been a 
watershed year as there was founded the "Parish Society" with the express 
purpose of organizing and collecting the support for the minister and other 
"hire's", to deal with the repairs and upkeep of the meetinghouse, to be a liaison 
to the town government, and other needs that arise. It also the year the church 
asked the town to pay a stipend for usage of the meetinghouse to add money to 
the church support. ^^^ This is a separate entity to the church finances and had 
it's own records to keep and was a direct result of changes in the relationship 
between the church and the town under the new Constitution. "^^^ This Parish 
Society's work was open to the members of the "Religious Society qualified to 
vote in town affairs and to meet at Rev. Richmond's Meetinghouse ...". The 
first post-formation meeting was April 26, 1824. ^^^ Immediately there was a 
challenge in the collection of taxes and support. John Sturtevant was hired at 
4.75 cents on the dollar commission for collecting the taxed delinquent to 
support the church in the eastern part of town and Nehemiah Tomson got 5 
cents commission for collection in the southerly part of town. One holdout was 
the town as there was a motion to not allow the town use of the meetinghouse 
for "holding town meetings" without compensation for the use. The First of 
November (1824) was the deadline to settle the account. "^^^ This may seem 
extreme but the Parish Treasury Book outlines a series of delinquencies that 
date before 1825 of town assessments in arrears to the church in support of Rev. 
Richmond and it seems these delinquent accounts were not being pursued and 
may lapse a couple to several years and the cash flow of the church was 
declining. '^*'* The business in the first few years was fairly standard. In 1827 it 

Increase N. Tarbox, DD., Page 43-44. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Two, pages 254-55 ; dated April 24, 1823. 

^^^ This motion was tabled- Halifax Town Records . Book Two, page 272. 

"^'^ The first page of the Recordbook says " We the undersigned make application to you Obadiah 

Lyon for one of the justices of the County of Plymouth to insure a warrant for calling the first 

meeting of the Parish or Religious Society of the Standing Order of the town of Halifax Viz to 

choose parish officers to raise money for Parochial Charges and other parish Charges and to 

transact any other parish business that may be necessary: Signd : Noah Bosworth, Timothy Wood, 

Adam Thomson, Gideon Samson, Ebenezer Wood, Isaac Wood, Seth Bosworth, Jonathan Pratt, 

Timothy Wood, Jr., Nathaniel Bosworth, ; a true copy of the petition , signed Dexter C. Thomosn, 

Clerk. <Dated April 6, 1824> CHURCH Records, Book 2, "Parish Records of the First 

Religious Society: 1825 - 1885" page . 1 

"^'^ IBID, page 2. The business agenda was 1> Put the bell ringing out for bid to the lowest bidder, 

2> Pay Simeon Leach for ringing the bell $10.50 for the year past, 3> Buy a book for keeping the 

records, 4> Sexton hired for $3.00 for the year (sweeping and snow removal) 5> raise $150 for the 

Parish Charges, and they adjourned the meeting until May. . 

"^'^ CR, Religious Society Meeting Records : 1 825-1 883, page 3. In CR, Book 7, "Parish Committee 

Financial Records: 1824-1860", we find the delinquent taxes sought in 1827 and 8, were taxed in 

arrears since 1 822 and 1 823 , 5 and 6 years delinquent!!. Page 2-4. 

'^'^ CR, "Parish Treasury Book, 1825-1860", page 1-2. (Entries dated from 5/25- 5/26/1825) . 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 159 

was decided to invest a surplus from the 

sale of pews using selected "trustees" to oversee this. In 1829, it was mentioned 
that the church needed painting and funds needed to be set aside for this task. 
In fact it was suggested subsequently to put "the outside of the meetinghouse in 
good repair outside and inside the ensuing year. '**^ 

In 1825 we get a hint at the additional problems For Rev. Richmond on 
the horizon. On March 27, 1825 there was a sale of the pews to "defray the cost 
of repair to the meetinghouse". ^^^ This meetinghouse was now around 90 years 
old and had been renovated once about seventy years before and likely was in 
need of some repair and painting work. This task took a couple of years to 
support and so in 1828 the contract was given to paint the meetinghouse. John 
Waterman was chosen as "agent" (clerk of the works) to see it done. The job 
was completed shortly after May 15, 1829. ^^^ 

Also in May, 1829 , was the first mention of trying to put a stove in the 
meetinghouse to warm it for times of use.(aIthough there is a mention of fuel as 
far back as 1824) They had not likely had a stove to date and people brought 
coals from home in individual stoves to use. It seems this topic was shelved for 
the time being. '**^( In, November 1829 a request to purchase a stove for the 
church made it to the Parish Society Meeting, a full 6 months later) . 1830 was 
also a banner year for Halifax as The political realm took center stage for on 
October 13, 1830, The Convention was held in Pope's tavern and John Quincy 
Adams was elected to go to the 23*^^ Congress in Washington, DC. 

Through the use of immense energy and hard work. Rev. Richmond 
maintained the church well into the "orthodox" camp theologically and 
functionally, and insured it was not taken by the winds of liberalism that spread 
in and from parts of Boston and elsewhere and was shared in much literature 
that began to be printed for the use of the churches. The town itself had shrunk 
due to some departures from 749 in 1820 to 708 in 1830. ^^^The growing 
Associational and mission outreach bodies helped enrich the ideal that this 
church was not only "preaching the Gospel" but was reaching those elsewhere 
"for Christ". It seems though that different views may have been residing in 
the background locally in Halifax but the intensity of Rev. Richmond's energies 
and his zealousness kept them at bay... for a while for there were some who 
deeply disagreed with their minister. Given the number of dissentions, it is 
likely the idea of generating "membership" certificates was a method to retain 
the people in the same church fellowship but this will fail as we shall see. "^^^ The 

'^^^ IBID, page 10,14, 16 

^^^ CR, Book Four, page 6, 9 

"^^^ CR , Book Four, page 16 

'^'^CR, Book Four, Page 17 

^^^ Vital Records of Halifax, MA , "population" 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Three, page 215 ''Voted to choose a committee for the purpose of 

giving certificates of Membership to those that wish to join the Religious Society in this town. " Dtd. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


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November 12, IH21. 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church 















ON <- 



Pews Listed in Diagrams by number: 

1-Rev. Richmond 2.Adam Thompson 3Jabez Waterman 

4-John Waterman 5.-Zadok Thompson 6. Josiah Thompson 

7-Thomas Drew and Jonathan Pratt 8- John Sturtevant 

9- John Fuller 10- Lloyd Morton and Cyrus Morton 

11.- Nehemiah Thompson 12- Ebenezer Hathaway 

13- Reuben Sylvester 14- Richard Bozworth 15- Abeil White and Sylvanus 

Fuller 16- Reuben Thompson, Jr. 17- ??? 

18- Joseph Waterman 19- Timothy Wood 20-Freeman Waterman 

21- Simeon Sturtevant 22- Joseph Waterman 23- ??? 

24- John & Caleb Pool 25- Waterman Bozworth 26-Nathaniel Morton 

27- Asaph Bozworth,Jr 28-Nathaniel Fuller & Jabez Soule 

29- Seth Bozworth 30- Robert Inglee &Obadiah Lyon 

31- Alphaes Britt 32-£llis Holmes 

Ephriam Tilson 34- Jabez Soule 

36-Seth Allen 37- Asa Thompson 

39- Samuel Wood & Samuel Tompson 

Thompson 41- Ebenezer Wood 

43- Adam Thompson & Trace Wood 

45- Jabez Bozworth & Seth Briggs 

47- Samuel Fuller 48- Joseph Bozworth 

50- Jonathan Waterman51- ???? 


33-Armsal Thompson <& 

35-Oliver Holmes 

38- John Tilson 

40 - Ward Thompson &Samuel 

42- Zebediah Tompson 

44- Holmes and William Sears 

46- Sam'l & Stafford Sturtevant 

49- Ephraim & Welcome Tilson 

52- Howland Holmes 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


53- Judah Wood 54-Amara Hathaway 55- Melvin Crooker 

56- Andrew Richard & Cephas Waterman 57- William & Thomas Fuller 

58- Sebring Hathaway 59- ???? 60- Jabez Waterman & William 

and Holmes Sears 61- Mellow Holmes and Seth Bozworth 

63 - ????? 64 ?????? 


1- Trace Thompson 
3- Stafford Stertavent 
5- Thomas Sturtevant 
7- Zebediah Thompson 
9- Robert Inglee 
Cornelius Pratt 
12- Jabez Waterman 

2- Drew Thompson 
4- Paul Sturtevant 
6- Ebenezer Wood 
8- Jabez Sturtevant 

10- Thomas Holmes <&Ebenezer & 

11- Ward Thompson 

Reference- Drawings by Rev. Wadsworth - 2007 

Original drawings in Halifax Church Archives 

Information gleaned from pew sales - Halifax Town Records , 

Book, Three, pages 215 and 21 8ff. and Pages 361, 369-370 

Obadiah Lyon was designated "Vendor Master" for the pew sale. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 163 

B) 1830-1854: 



The year 1831 started off with one of the worst snowstorms in recent 
memory with very cold temperatures and high winds. "^^^At a Parish 
Committee meeting on April 18, 1831, it was voted NOT to raise Rev. 
Richmond's salary for the next year . It was communicated to Rev. Richmond 
by a standing committee of 8 plus another 4 from the church. The reason was 
not specifically stated in the notes here. ^'^'^ The result was that Rev. Richmond 
balked and said ^'Mr. Richmond under existing circumstances did not think it 
his duty to ask for a dismission, said after next October (the time he is paid to) 
he would if his health admitted Preach to the Society One year & they might 
contribute what they pleased he did not ask nor wished the Society to vote him 
a salary, individuals that felt disposed might give him what they pleased, that 
he might not ask the parish for a cent". ^^^ By May this dissention had grown 
to call a '^council" of local churches and submitted a list of 14 ministers to be 
invited "to refer all the difficulties in the Church and Society. The salary 
issue continued and Rev. Richmond wasn't given further compensation until 
January, 1832 and that was noted in the ledger as "it being one full year salary 
ending October 8, 1830". So the collections were behind 4-5 years in arrears, 
and the payment to the pastor was not given for two years for salary two years 
prior. It was the non-salary year skipped in 1829-1830 (eventually paid in 
1832) that created the issue and bad feelings. Between April and June the 
issue festered in the parish when an Ecclesiastical Council was called in 
Halifax who requested that the church and pastor "to settle their differences 
among themselves, to forgive and forget, and to live in the peace of the Gospel; 
but if this could not be done that the parties agree on the terms upon which an 
amiable dissolution of the pastoral relation between Rev. Richmond and his 
Church and Society may be affected, and to call a mutual council to sanction 
that dissolution." '^^'^ This mutual council was offered on June 13, 1831, by a 
committee of five persons to Rev. Richmond and to give him opportunity to 
make any proposals he may have. On June 22, Rev. Richmond reported to 
have said "he could do nothing to effect a reconciliation and declined to agree 

"^^^ American Winters 1821-1870 by David Ludlum (AMA, Boston, MA, 1968), "1831". The snow 

was 2.5-3 feet deep and the wind created drifts 6-8 feet in some places and 10-12 feet in other areas 

of SE Massachusetts. The following December the temperature never rose above 32 degrees for the 

entire month and longer. On some nights it dropped to -15. 

"^^^ CR, Book 2, First Religious Society Records, 1 825-1 883, page 24. 

"^^^ IBID, this was the first volley in a dissention in the church between the pastor and people. . 

Page 26. ( April 25, 1831 ) 

424 r- 


^^"^CR, Book One, page 153. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 164 

to a mutual council nor to make any 

proposals." An interesting entry in the records of the parish dated September 
lO***, 1831, gives a scribing of a response from Rev. Richmond, who said " for 
he must have all those papers that Jabez Soule and Thomas Thompson had 
presented and read before the society and scandalizing his character; he must 
have those papers and have his character vindicated before he would make 
any proposals. And second, after he had received those papers he should not 
leave the Society nor consent to council relative to his dismission until the Lord 
should reveal to him that it was best for hm to leave ~ that he should stand like 
a centurion and keep his post" "^^^ Rev. Richmond balked further at any 
further action or interaction, compromise or proposal so the committee 
advising the church concluded to proceed with the dismissal. The first 
mention of a formal dissolution of the pastoral ties was mentioned in a 
September 1 meeting. This painful impasse lasted into the following year and 
on March 27, 1832, it was decided that the church had had enough. 
Throughout the fail and winter volleys of charges and votes to call outside 
councils were levied. "^^^The stated purpose of this special meeting was "to 
take into consideration the expediency of dissolving the Pastoral Relation 
between Rev. Richmond and the Church." Once again a committee was 
chosen to meet with Rev. Richmond to form a mutual council. Rev. 
Richmond agreed to the council mutually chosen. The second point speaks to 
the issue though "2. that should the council advise to my dismission, it shall be 
left to them to say whether, and if any, what pecuniary compensation be made 
to me by the Society on being dismissed. " and the third addresses the sense of 
mistrust that existed between the parties "3. That I on one part, and the 
Society on the other, mutually bind ourselves, by written obligation to abide 
by, and comply with, the result of the council ...". These points and others 
were negotiated at meetings on April 12 and 16^'*, 1832. As mentioned he was 
finally paid his arreared salary . His letter of dismission was dated May 1, 

^^^ CR, Book 2, "First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883", page 30. Annotations of 
correspondence show that his " teaching of "infant damnation" in this local congregation cause 
some to withdraw from the church, (original notes courtesy of Mr. Guy Baker and the Halifax 
Historical Museum, Susan Basilic, Historian) Of note in the Archives is a thick file of Rev. 
Richmond's Sermons and comments likely the file "shared" under duress in this confrontation. 
^'^^ In October it was voted "the Ministrations of Rev. Abel Richmond were no longer useful to the 
society but on the contrary his ministrations if continued are likely to be the means id insuring many 
valuable members of the society to remove their connections to other societies wheras the numerous 
personal difficulties that have taken place between Rev Abel Richmond and many individuals of the 
Society and Church have dispensed many individuals of the Church and Society and have joined 
other churches so that this Society cannot obtain a vote for assessing his stipulated salary ~ and it is 
believed that if hi continue to be minister of the Society there is reason to believe that the greater 
part of the Society will remove their parochial relations to other Societies... " This encapsulates 
the events of the later part of Rev. Richmond's tenure. People were leaving and the church was 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 165 

1832, and so was the vote of the church 

as well to recommend him to the Second Church in Abingdon, and on June 3, 
he was admitted into that church's membership. It was indeed a stormy end 
to an energetic 33 year pastorate. '^^^ Rev, Richmond was indeed compensated 
but at the cost of the sale of parish land C'The Parochial Lands) . The land 
across the road from the parsonage (South Side) was voted to be sold in 
support of the salary in arrears to Rev. Richmond. ^^^ The mentioned 
dissentions due to disagreements with Rev. Richmond helped spurn off people 
at the formative times of two split off churches: the Trunk Meetinghouse 
(-Baptist) and the Universalist Church."*^^ Although on both ends of the 
theological spectrum, it shows the diversity of faith views within the church 
previously. This staunch "orthodox" church body had a liberal and 
progressive part in it. Note the "Insert History" about the Split off churches 
in the following pages. 

"^^^ IBID, pages 154-5. This is parroted in the Book 2, First Rehgious Society Records, 1824-1883, 
pages 28-29 and summarized on page 43 under several points summarized as reasons for dismissal: 
1> General dissatisfaction with Rev. Richmond's ministrations with many being inattentive at 
worship, this being seen as unrepairable; 2> numerous personal differences between Rev. 
Richmond and many parishioners and the numbers going down to the point that they cannot support 
the pastor's salary; 3> the regular and improper way Rev. Richmond conducted the discipline of the 
church and especially in the conducting of church discussions in business and discipline ( the 
example of an issue with Stafford Sturtevant's discipline issue being badly handles offered as 
example) causing him and others to leave the Society, 4> Rev. Richmond's refusal to comply with 
a mutual council on several occasions; 5> Rev. Richmond's statement to the committee that 'a 
great part of his hearers wished him dead and in his grave if they could not get clear of him any 
other way'; 6> The he (Rev. Richmond) said in a public place in the presence of a great number of 
persons that he would rather live in a Savage wilderness among savage beasts and savage men than 
to live in this place; 7> Rev. Richmond refused the evaluation of an exparte council and 8> 
denying and misrepresenting the truth at services times. (Pages 42-46). 

'^^^ IBID, page 5 1 -2 Handwritten notes fix>m Historian Guy Baker specifies this land was sold for 
$590 ("Parsonage Lof ) by a committee of three consisting of Jabez Thompson, Stafford 
Sturtevant, and Dexter C. Thompson. 

Also see Halifax Town Records, Book Three (1827-1 842) page 75 'To see what the town will do in 
relation to the lot of land formerly purchased by said town of Rev 'dJohn Cotton (dec 'd); and which 
has been lately sold by the First Religious Society of said town. " <tabled> - dated September 19, 
1833. Indeed the dissentions spread to the locale of the town meetings as on occasion they met in 
Pope 's Tavern instead (Ibid, page 84, 6/10/1834). 

^^^ Between 1822 and 1833 there was a huge Exodus of people: 34 to other church bodies in 
Halifax, Kingston -5(1 Cong and 4 Baptist), Plympton -3 Cong, Middleboro -5 Cong., Pembroke 
- 5 (4 Bapt and 1 Episc), N Bridgewater- 1 Methodist, E. Bridgewater-1 Cong. , Hanson - 4 
(Cong-2, Bapt-1, Relig Soc- 1) totaling 58 People !! The Halifax Town Records adds to this 
further (Book 2, pages 277-8) with 10 more (7- 1'^ Baptist Middleboro , 13- Scituate- First 
Universalist, "Religious Soc. Of Hanson and Pembroke"- 1) See Insert History for specifics about 
Halifax. ) This totaling 79. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


CA 1825-1830 


The early 1800's were a time of religious diversity and foment. As noted 
in the history's main narrative during the Pastorate of Rev. Richmond, a 
variety of theological and doctrinal differences began to emerge to the surface 
within the Halifax Congregational church body. Some leaning towards the new 
Universalism and Unitarian views, and others reflected a more conservative 
"Old Light" Calvinism. These diverse leanings may have been fanned some by 
the proximity of Boston and Providence. The main body of the Orthodox 
Congregational Church was more or less mid-line, but this soon created spin off 
groups that moved to form their own bodies and create an ongoing dissension 
and censure/ discipline within the church. Two of these bodies are discussed 

This church body was 
formed from signers from 
Plympton, Middleboro and 
Halifax to form a Society of 
the Baptist Faith. The 
writings of John Tomson 
notes the scene of a Baptism 
by the Wood Street Bridge of 
"New members of the Trunk 
Meeting House" built in 
1822." *^^ On April 25, 1825, 
Justice of the Peace Obadiah 
Lyon received the petition. 
The Halifax portion of this 
group was a grouping of members and friends of the Congregational Church 
who were in disagreement with the orthodox church's faith and polity. This 
church's formation was formally instituted from an answered petition from the 
First Baptist church in Middleboro (ditto from members in Kingston, ) and this 
nucleus formed the church in April, 1835. The meeting held created the 
"church" in that place. They called themselves the "Branch Church of 
Halifax". For a time they met in homes until the church meetinghouse was 

Trunk Meeting House - ca 1900 

Noted in "Short Stories by Harry Brown and cited as a memoir of John Tomson. 

The church structure was located on the Comer of Wood, Fuller and Ceder Streets in Southerly 
Halifax. The formation is found in the Trunk Meeting House Church Records , originals located in 
the Archives of the Halifax Congregational Church. (Hereafter called TMHR) 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 167 

built and dedicated on March 2, (1822/3 

). The name "Trunk Meeting House" was coined because of the ceiling was 
"rounded like the lid of an old steamer trunk" inside. ^^^ Entrance as a member 
required an examination of one's personal faith and theology. It seems likely 
the church went as far as to expect re-baptism but that is not completely clear. 
Notably the Baptists in the area were enriched by the work and legacy of the 
Great Preacher and orator the late-Rev. Isaac Backus whose mission and 
enrichment reached far 
and wide in New England 
and whose home was 
nearby. In the years before 
and around the Civil War 
there were thoughts of 
disassociation from the 
Baptist Association and to 
become "Independent". 
This remained an internal 
schism that plagued the 
church ongoing and likely 
contributed to its decline in 
the 1860's and 1870's. Some 
of this discussion may have 
come to fruition as the 
illustrated article shows the 
(re-)dedication of the 
meetinghouse as reported in the Middleboro newspaper. The meetinghouse 
went into a state of disrepair in the latter 1800s and was eventually burned in 
1913. The written Church records only continue to July, 1862. In addition as 
the church was abandoned its bell was taken down and used elsewhere as a fire 
bell in the area until telephone lines were used. It was eventually discovered in 
the barn of the Trop house (Wood Street) in 1979 and is at the Historical 
Society.'*^'* Mr. Harry Brown, aged 99.5 YO, in a conversation on April 4, 2007 
with the author, said as a child he remembers attending the Trunk Meeting 
House Church and that there were about 5 in attendance (ca 1910) and a Rev. 
Ward Stetson from the Baptist Church on Middleboro led the services. 
Pastoral Leadership: Isaac Cushman (First Minister) - 32y Full time & 5 Yrs 
Part time, Jonathan Parker 45 yrs, Elijah Dexter - 42 y"*^^ 

Dedication. — The DedicnHbn of 
the Baptist Meeting House in Sonth 
Halifax, will talte place on Wednes- 
day, Nov. 2. ExereUes cbm fencing 
i^t the nstin! time ofchUrcfa service in 
lihfe moroit^j. It i« »iii\^^e^ the- 
t)^a?Cption' Sermon wiU'^pifeached 

JVewspaper clipping from the 
Nemasket Gazette; V. 1, #52, pg 2 
Oct. 28, 1853 (Middleboro). 

The records have 1853 and the record seems to be faulty as the church was m fiill operation for 
three decades before that point. 
^^^ Yesterday and Today : 250* Anniyersary Booklet, page 25. 

From the Original Record book, and from Yesterday and Today , page 25. 

According to the narrative by Harry Brown in his anthology titled, "Short Stories". Orig. at 
Holmes Public Library in Halifax. And Halifax Museum, Susan Basille, Historian. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 168 

Trunk Meetin2 House An interview with Harry Brown by 

his son Steve in April, 2007 about the Meetinghouse, 

where he attended as a youngster: 

The Trunk Meeting House was located in the triangle along Fuller, Wood and Cedar 
Street in South Halifax.? The triangle is still there and is undeveloped. 

. If you go to the assessor's office they do have the owner of record and their address. 

The owner prior to the McCormick's house (big white house on left before the 
triangle, built in the 1800's) built the Trunk Meeting House? He couldn't remember 
his name but is buried in a small cemetery' on the south side of Wood Street (he said 
River but I believe he was referring to Wood) about ?mile from the triangle. 

Lewis Brown, his father, was the sextant even though he was the follower of a famous 

The minister (Fuller?) w as from the Middleboro Green Baptist Church? Services 
were held Sunday afternoon? He walked from Middleboro to the church? He 
usually ate supper with his parents? His talent was prophesying? He prophesized 
that the church would spawn a great missionary family and it did.? My father's 
sister met her husband at the Baptist Church and become missionaries in Africa 
and minister? The family has seven children and almost all are in the mission or 
church field.? 

My father's mother played the piano at the services? The congregation was quite 
small, most were local and from the Soule portions on Middleboro. The Standish 
family were one of the attendees. 

John Waynot burnt the trunk meeting house down due to his dislike of its use and it 
was not rebuilt. 

My father often went to the Congregational Church in the a.m. and the Trunk 
meeting house in the p.m.? The church had a Sunday school that preceded the 
main service? The minister, Jim Thompson (?) also ran a group for boys (a 
predecessor of the Boy Scouts) on Saturdays.? He did not have a horse thus always 
walked often with a wheel barrow.? He was a carpenter who did work on Paradise 
Lane.? He was also the town librarian. 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 169 

_ TFi. m. B0» ^ 

., ,r - '^r r*rr..rd B^y«« thft I ftiT ©ore MilSE one y«8T tbey 1i|^ li^ r^Fylf 
ir,«^?ir ^'r^^t "^rt: ^:rr ^..l.^ .^Mh th* -r^m..«m r*.M«,,tMt.fl.ld^» 

0«^V't ■"! 3 etc* ipr'3nfn-cn ^t-rvl^rv * f tw 5i*id for b »r.i.»«e e»«l «ISO f©-^ 
iMi.rrd -Sth Jft^^ f^rit li^iitt tto y«ftri mniS^ .Ith, |»f<f/ feip mlMot:ry tfe« oia 

%f lendJ aa vblch thus 18?'3 !:.©t?«s bis*, Xac:a teilS «»,s »".rii??':?^<!. ^f . .1 

iiiprd by tii.fl a#n.6ffl.lfJFt*oR for |f elU'TCts p-wrrsoBei:. *ti©ii "It ef?wff»^''' te ti* -Kje-Pfl T^ 

for eEiircfc p;irpajiea il »«£ tei J^fcrt fe 6J3« hftlJfJi- 

• i^«" •of t:^e n^ft'i? opfoslti* what ••?■■? t^«:is t^c ■'*iS«a*Mll'ir TJ'l«r«», . 

HRft v^r or til* flripclflre tlon* follSlfJ 

■s'.ru*-*' 3« Iff 40 ft. - 

|l«l»li«ii.t-«frfl ftini tht ro-DT ffl!iliigl'« with efiPtrni »sw«g ihliii?l«R. 
*&♦ fel'Sir^ t« bfr .ill piist^j^ pltfe twj c ofits at t^int Imt ftjasS.^lit 

Rough notes by Historian Guy Baker concerning this Church. Of interest is the 
precise measurements and materials denoted here. (Card from the Halifax 
Museum, Susan Basilic, Historian. ) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 170 

1828- 1893/^^ 

Universalism actually began in Boston as a religious concept. It had much 
opposition as it spread among Congregational Churches to challenge the 
orthodox Church's belief system and "orthodox" position. It was born under the 
belief that God through Grace (in Jesus Christ) saves every member of the 
human race irreguardless. With an over-tone of "goodness to man and God's 
benevolence" . The Universalist Churches were not organized as they spread 
since the 1770's and 80's but by the 
1790's they were better organized. 
They grew quickly in to the 1820's 
and their evangelical outreach, 
although subtle, was effective on 
people weary of the harshness of 
Calvinism and the judgmentalism 
of the orthodox Congregational 
Church in our case.'*^^ It is likely 
this contrast brought some under 
Rev. Richmond to depart and form 
their own society. Sadly, there is 
little information about the 
Universalist Church in Halifax. 
Some folks in Middleboro has 
wanted to join a pre-formed society 

in Halifax around 1822 so there was a nucleus of a church body in the offing. 
With thanks from the Archivist at the Andover Harvard Theological Library in 
Cambridge (Harvard U) the following was found: 

""This society was probably organized in 1825 and a meetinghouse was built 
and dedicated January 1, 1829. ^^ The 1836 Universalist Register lists Alanson 
St. Clair as minister. The Revs. Darius and Sylvanus Cobb'*'*^ preached in this 

^^^ From Yesterday and Today , page 25. 

"^^^ A Religious History of the American People, Volume 1 , by Sydney E. Ahlstrom ( Image 

Books, Garden City, NY , 1975 ) Pages 582-4. 


History of the Town of Midddleboro , page 490, "Universalist Society' 

Corroboration for this comes from a report of the Dedication in the New Bedford Mercury (New 
Bedford, MA Newspaper) Volume 22, Issue 25, page 3, dated December 26, 1828 saying "The new 
Universalist Meetinghouse in Halifax will be dedicated on Thursday next: Sermon by the Rev. 
David Pickering of Providence." 

**^ Sylvanus Cobb - Biographical Note: Svlvanus Cobb (1798-1 866) was ordained as a Universalist minister in 

Winthrop, Maine, in 1 821 . He held ministerial positions throughout Maine and Massachusetts and founded the 

UniversaHst newspaper The Christian Freeman and Family Visiter in 1 839 in Waltham, Massachusetts. He also 

authored Compend of Divinity in 1846, a compilation of Universalist doctrine and beliefs, and New Testament 

of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: with explanatory notes and practical observations in 1 864. Cobb was 

very active in politics and social reform issues and was a strong supporter of the anti-slavery movement, even 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 171 

meetinghouse, as did Rev. Thomas 

Beede. As late as 1877, summer services were being held with a minister coming 
from South Weymouth to preach. The meetinghouse was sold and moved to the 
late Edwin Lyon's place where it is still in use as a storehouse and barn.""^' 

The description at the "raising" on August 23, 1828, has the following 
"...This meetinghouse although small, we think, will be very handsome and 
convenient. It stands in a beautiful situation, not far from the center of town; it 
is 26 by 40 feet, with a front gallery for singers: estimated to accommodate 300 
to 400 people." ^^^ 

"Contract for erection of a meetinghouse, endowed July 11, 1836, stating 
that terms have been fulfilled, in possession of Mr. Clement A. Lyon, Weare 
Road, New Boston, N.H 

Notes on 
the Halifax churches, prepared 
for the bicentennial celebration of 
Halifax in 1934, by and in 
possession of Miss Nettie Thomas, 
Monponsett Street, Halifax.""*^^ 
The article shared on this page is 
an image of the report of the 
Dedication on January 10, 1829, 
from the "Trumpet and 
Universalist" Magazine. 

It was located on Plymouth 
street (#679) and was sold to 
H.M. Bosworth and moved to 712 
Old Plymouth street in 1893. It 
has since been torn down. The 
church did not support the 
Trinity and other central 


vidod agaiiMt iUelf? 


DBDIOATtOX, ^^ ; \\ 

The Mooting Houiio rocontly eroclod by I ho ' g- 
Uiiivortftiwt* in Il&lttux. Mau. wan dodicmod to 


^Thurtdiy, 1st inst. Sorvicos w«re perfonnud in 
rfirt'ho-^liowinir (»rd*r !— I. Vduntory by ihc 

Choir, t. Koadiii^ lot^ct porlionit afScripturo. 
by Mr. T. J. Wliiicomb. 8. Iiilrodiictory Pmyur, 
by^Br. Ilenj. WliiM«(noro. 4. Hymn.- 6. Dodi- 
catory Prayor, by Ilr. J. H. Iluybee. 6. OrigUml 
Hymn. 7. «erin«n, by Br. D. Pickering, T«xt. dc 
.1 Prov. xi. so. 8. Concluding Pravor, by Br. N. u 
{Writfbi.jr. 0. AnUioin. 10. UoHodiction. * 

; Uoli^iotM setvii:u9 were porrnrinod in-tlio nfior 
lie I nonn, when n diRuour#o wn» dclivorod by Br. C. : Oi 
^ Gardnor, of Ou.xbnry, To.xl, .Luko ix. 67. " " ^ 

all If the readorw of the 


readon* of ihoTrunipBt will compare the 
pro4,'ruM or Univor»alflin \n the Old Colony dnr- Itii 
iMg the yoiir p«»t, ^vith the account of the stale „i 
of orthodoxy (Leie which wo gnvg. in our iaat, 
we liiiiik tlioy will oavily di»cov«r which of the . ll> 
two (Uctrines sconiv to •« hare fruMcoumo and to 
be iflurified.** \V© know of no auction of our j 
country where the cainK» of truth i« mora rapidly : f,# 
yaininy irronnd, that in the couniiosofPiymoutJi ( 
and Barnatable. ! ve 

doctrines of the orthodox 

Congregational Church, as this period was a time of religious experimentalism. 
It's footprint on the history of the Town of Halifax seems to have been small and 
temporary even if it's genesis was exciting. . 

serving two terms each in the Maine and Massachusetts legislatures. He died in Boston, Massachusetts, at the 

age of 68. For further search on Cobb and his writings: see Sylvanus Cobb, Sermons, bMS 360, Andover- 

Harvard Library, Harvard Divinity School; : bMS 360; ; Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard 

Divinity School, 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02 1 3 8- 1 9 1 1 (1830-1837) (some undated) - THOMAS 

BEEDE - shared the yoked parish duties with Halifax and Duxbury according to the Trumpet and Universalist 

of 6/3/1 837. 
Inventory of Universalist Archives in Massachusetts, prepared by the Historical Records Survey 
Division of Community Service Programs of the Works Progress Administration in 1942 : See: 
Trumpet and Universalist Magazine July 26, 1 828 



Trumpet and Universalist Magazine - August 23, 1828 
Trumpet and Universalist Magazine - June 3, 1837 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 72 

CHURCHES IN HALIFAX 1/1825- 6/1832 from The Halifax Congregational 

A> To the ^^Baptist Church ^^ (Trunk) - Zephaniah Britton 3/5/1826, John Wood 
- 2/2/1832, Samuel Fuller, Robert Thomson, Oliver Freeman-4/30/1832, Cyrus 
Wood- 1/24/1834, Nehemiah Thomson- 1/14/1834, Nathan Fuller -4/14/1834, 
Chipman Fuller, Nathan Wood- 4/29/1834 

B> To the Universalist Society - Lewis Holmes-4/27/1824, Paul Bryant - 
4/25/1827, Chelsias Howard , John Fletcher, Ralph Fletcher, John Atwood, 
Robert Allen, Isaac Semmins, William Toolman -4/4/1828, Elisha May, 4/8/1829, 
Albert Morton, Josiah Tilson, Jonathan Harden, Isaac Sturtevant -4/8/1829, 
George Lawton- 4/27/1929, Thomas Leach - 4/30/1829, <"Unitarian and 
Universalist Soc."> Simeon Chandler-4/5/1830, Jacob Tomson - 1/14/1831, 
<First Univeralsist Soc.> Sylvanus Harlow-1/17/1831, John Tillman, Stephen 
Holmes- 3/14/1831, William Bryant, Jr.- 4/5/1831, Zadok Leonard- 4/25/1831, 
Robert Lawton -4/30/1832, James Wade - 3/13/1833, William Knopp, Obadiah 
Lyon, Charles Gurney- 4/30/1833, John Wade- 4/1/1833, George Packson, 
Sylvanus Leach, Melvin Holmes, Jesse Vaughn, David Swain- 4/8/1833, Joseph 
Briggs- 4/1822 <see ^^"^ > 

C> Rev. Abel Richmond's Church - William Briggs, Jr., Nathan Briggs-6/2/1825, 
Ebenezer Hathaway- 10/12/1825, Joseph Bosworth- 7/6/1826, Cephas 
Waterman- 3/27/1825, William Briggs- 4/3/1826, Seth Briggs- 3/1/1827, Seabury 
Hathaway - 4/17/1827, Henry Pope- 5/7/1827, James Bosworth- 2/12/1827, 
Merril Johnson- 4/24/1829, Isaac Foster- 4/24/1829 

Total that joined the various "split-off churches in Halifax = 54"*^*^ 


This person is listed in the Halifax Town Records , Book Two, page 277-8 
^^ CR, "First Religious Society": 1824-1 883, pages 101-108, 124-139 These were but a subset of 
the total number that left the Congregational Church in Halifax. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


= 11} 

1. Universalist Church 

2. Congregational Church 

3. Rev. Abel Richmond's Home 

4. Trunk Meeting House (Baptist)y 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 174 

The Meeting of July 2, 1832 of the Religious Society sought to find 
someone to "supply the pulpit" after the departure of Rev. Richmond to 
Abingdon. A Variety of supply pastors came for the Sunday Services, and were 
boarded in parishioners' homes. '^'*^. In fact a Reverend Lewis Field was 
approached in June but refused the offer to pastor in Halifax. ^'^'^ In the 
subsequent August 25^'' meeting of the Religious society, there was discussion 
about the hope that Rev. Eldridge G. Howe would supply the pulpit for a time 
and as soon as August 30*'' it was proposed that Rev. Howe be given an offer to 
be the next minister in Halifax. ^"^ Rev. Howe said he'd consider it and to let 
him supply another two weeks before giving his answer in four weeks. < Noted 
also that as he deliberated the choice, he continued to supply the pulpit>. His 
affirmative response was given on September IS***. His response is as follows: 

'' Gentlemen f you have been blessed thro your Committee, Deacon R. 
Sylvester, Deacon Waterman andDr, C, Morton to invite me to discharge among 
you the duties of the Christian Ministry, 

After taking the subject into Consideration during the four weeks, I gave the 
united committee on the 18"' an affirmative answer. This, with the reasons of it, 
and reflections suggested by it, if repeated, at the request of that Committee on last 

I have therefore now given myself to you. To be the servant of Christ , 
ministering to you and to your children, in the things relating to eternal life, 

I assent to the proposed salary of $400, 00, Under all the circumstances I do 
not wish it to be a large sum. For I firmly believe, and trust, that if it is not a large, 
and if it not prove to be competent support, the individual voluntary offerings of an 
affectionate people will supply my necessity or comfort ^^"^^ ^^^ 

^^ CR, Book 7, "Parish Committee Financial Accounts", see entries for "1832". . Rev. Howe's 
Biography in the Church Records note Rev. Howe as supplying first on June 3, 1832, and he was 
asked to stay and preach longer but refused the invitation. CR, Book 2, 1832 - 1891, page 2. 
^^'^ CR, Book 2. "First Religious Society Records" , page 53. At a meeting on July 7, his refusal 
was accepted. . 

^^^ CR, Book 2, page 9-10, notes a letter of July 2 sent to Rev. Howe in CT, " Rev 'd, You were 
informed by our last letter that the Rev 'd Lucious Field was engaged with us for five Sabbaths . We 
have this day, had a perish meeting who thought best to hear another candidate, the church and 
Society present and directed us to consider you. Accordingly we request you come to preach as a 

candidate. We are now destitute a minister, and wish you to come immediately " The response 

was affirmative and" he preached in Halifax on July 29^^ and the three following Sabbaths. " CR, 
Book 7, First Religious Society Records, page 55, 56. Howe was to receive $400 per year for 5 
years, but have no parsonage to use. A new stipulation was added; that he give three months notice 
before leaving. 

"^^^ CR, Book 2, Church Records: 1 825- 1 860, page 10-11; also in CR, "First Religious Society: 
1824-1883", page 58-59. 

Rev. Elbridge G. Howe was previously dismissed from the Congregational Church in 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 175 

The residual anxiety and unrest 
from the tumult with Rev. Richmond was still apparent in the community, so On 
August 21, there was 
a meeting at the home 
of Nathaniel Morton 
''^Vith fasting and 
prayer, and mutual 
confession" "that they 
might be prepared in 
Brotherly love and the 
other Christian graces 
for receiving another 
Pastor". It was an 
affecting season and 
many tears were shed. 
At the request of Mr. 
Howe, who had, the 
day before received 
the invitation to 
become the pastor, 

both males and females made a personal expression of their feelings .... To be 
perfectly willing to overlook the past without requiring any other confession. 
...All seemed determined to be united in love, and to strive together for the 
peace and prosperity of Zion. " This accompanied a general confession of the 
gathered body to reconcile the hearts of the faithful. It is likely this was a 
reconstituting factor for the church family before the ministry of Rev. Howe 
began in Halifax officially. "^^^ 

The vote to install Rev. Howe was given by the church on September 27, 
1832, and on October SO**", the First Religious Society gave it's approval as well 
to the selection of Rev. Howe. Planning moved forward to the Installation on 
November 15, 1832. ^^^ 

Y . " 
..."'. 1. 

DR. MORTON'S HOME - Plymouth 
Was the home of Guy Baker, historia 
History of Halifax. Fence is noted in the 
historic sites. Photo inset: Dr. Cyrus Mc 

^ ^ 1 

lA 1 1 

St. -early lX50's. 
n and author of 
national listing of 
?rton. 1797-1873. 

Southwick, on attending the religious anniversaries in Boston (Brattle Street Church: Annual 
meeting), May, 1832, was solicited by Rev. Alden of Abington... On the 2^^ of June Mr. Howe 
arrived in Kingston. Mr. Cushman, then preaching at Hanover, could not supply at Halifax; but 
Providentially seeing a stranger ride up to Mr. Powers' lodgings and ascertaining him to be a 
clergyman. Mr. Howe; he immediately requested him to officiate at Halifax, . . . 

Rev. Harvey Smith, Mr. Howe's companion from Feeding Hills, West Springfield, to 
Boston, consenting to supply at Kingston. Mr. Howe accordingly preached for the first time at 
Halifax, on the 3''^ of June..." CR, Book 2 :Church Society Records: 1825-1860; Page 9. 
'*^' Photo from Here and Now , page 56. 

"^^ CR, Book Two, First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 42-43. 
"^^^ CR, Book 2, Church Records: 1825-1860, page 11-12. The Installation was attended by a large 
number of clergy and delegates, < 9 churches = 9 clergy, 10 Delegates> 
The service was performed as follows: Opening Prayer : Rev Ebenezer Gay (Bridgewater) ; 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 176 

The first item in Rev. Howe and the 
church's business came a month later at the Religious Society Meeting on 
December 24^*", 1832 on a vote to buy a stove for the meetinghouse as well as fuel 
(wood) for the winter. '*^'* The worshippers would now have a warm place to go 
and worship and the town meetings would also have some comfort. Sadly also, 
the ghost of Rev. Richmond continued to haunt the congregation as in 1833 (End 
of February), a number of the women of the church solicited Rev. Richmond 
and were trying to heal the breech between the church and Rev. Richmond still 
outstanding and wanted him to meet with them at the meetinghouse but 
refused. A subsequent letter, approved by the Pastor (Howe) and the church 
was sent as well. Mr. And Mrs. Drew shortly withdrew their membership due to 
residual hurt around Rev. Richmond to the Church of Plympton. (There was 
likely also a background issue of note and a notation form the record clarifies 
things: ",,, though Drew was sometimes believed by the church to have been 
sometimes guilty of intoxication with ardent spirits, yet the church and pastor 
judged, perhaps wrongly, that in the present divided and distracted state it was not 
expedient to enter into a coarse of discipline. The obnoxious phrase procured the 
return of the letter, or Brother Drew from some other cause did not present it to the 
church in Plympton, On returning he expressed his willingness to remain with the 
church, " (Church Society Records, Book 7, page 16) ) Likewise, a committee was 
sent to Mrs. Hillman Pratt about her grievance with a certain number of 
participants in the dismission of Rev. Richmond. 

The schism continued as on September 26, 1833, several members 
requested a church meeting to vent some of their dissatisfactions over certain 
things. This was signed by Faith Fuller, Susana Thomson, Elisabeth Thomson, 
Hannah Fuller, Hannah Wood, Fear Thomson, Susana Bosworth, Asenath 
Thomson, Hannah Thomson, Mercy Pratt. This group stated that due to the 
method of Rev. Richmond's dismissal, they required a certain "former 
committee" to go to Rev. Richmond and make confession, or if they wouldn't, 
this group could not be reconciled to the church and they would boycott 
communion. The church responded that it would be willing to revisit all the 
records of the dismissal of Rev. Richmond and even convene a council to do this. 
There were several attempts to satisfy this group privately and publicly but to 
no avail. Generally both sides continued a heated debate and dug in within their 
points of view. In fact the group walked out of the September meeting where the 

Sermon - Erastus Maltby (Taunton); Installing Prayer - Rev. Philip Colby ( Titicut ), Charge to the 
Pastor -Rev. John Shaw (Middleboro, West); Eight Hand of Fellowship - Rev. Plummer Chase ( 
Carver), Address to Church and Society - Rev. Enoch Sanford ( Raynham) , Concluding Prayer - 
Rev. Elijah Dexter ("Plymton"). 

^^'^ This entry in The Records of the Religious Society (page 62) is accompanied by an order to 
pay for the fuel. Sadly the wood for the winter of 1 832/3 wasn't paid for until April of 1 834. (CR, 
Book 7, Religious Society Financial Records, Entry dated April 7, 1834). 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 177 

church's response of non-compliance was 

shared. "^ ^ Eventually a mutual Ex-Parte council was called in December to 
hear mutual grievances. It was then resolved 1> to form a mutual council and 
to hear Rev. Richmond, 2> evidence be publicly aired in full. On December 12, 
Rev. Howe complied with the directions of the council. An anonymous note was 
given to Deacon Sylvester in February asking him to "make confession", which 
he refused since it was anonymous, which brought about a response for on 
February 23, 1834, Rev. Howe shared with the church the reception of a letter 
from 15 members "requesting to form a particular church, or to join other 
churches". The dire circumstance of this is laid out in the march 3, 1834, 
meeting, there was a reiteration of the existing covenant with the hope of that 
being a source of reconnection, and that failing notes the following " ...we think 
no slight causes should influence one to seek release from such a covenant, while 
still residing in this place; particularly for the purpose of forming another 
church from this already too few in number. We should have considered 
ourselves as wanting in duty to our brethren and sisters, and to our Lord, should 
we, with present views in any was sanction a desired release from covenant 
obligations, if that were possible, for the purpose for forming a sister church in 
this small town of little more than 700 souls. ""^^^ This eventually was the case as 
on March 12, 1834 using a recommendation of (yet another) a Mutual Council 
gave 15 members letters of dismission to the Second Church in Abingdon. ! This 
was refused by the church and so in July, these members seceded for the church. 
"They were organized into a church by Rev. Moses Thatcher and Rev. Otis 
Thomson. Rev. Richmond then began to officiate as their minister". ^^"^ It is a 
curiosity that the numbers officially sent to the Plymouth Association did not 

^^^ This row continued more vehemently into November and Rev. Howe at the November 29, 1833 
meeting said "he once more made an effort to reconcile the members, by exhorting them to love and 
forbearance; BUT WITHOUT EFFECT." The nexus of the complaint was reiterated by a note 
signed by Susana Thomson and others was presented saying "their feelings were hurt, 1 . by the 
conduct of Deacon Sylvester settling Mr. Richmond aside when he was pastor of the church, and 
acting as tho' he himself was the pastor, in notifying a Church Meeting, 2. By a communication sent 
to Mr. Richmond in which it is stated that Deacon Sylvester and three others whereby the church 
voted to be a committee to unite with the parish in soliciting an "ex-parte" Council; 3. IN the letters 
. . . when he was dismissed, they say whereas he refused mutual council, we call an Ex-Parte 
coimcil". The church coxmtered that these points were but a part of the entire grievance with Rev. 
Richmond and his dismissal. CR, Book 2, Church Society Records, 1825-1860, pages 20-23. 
^^ IBID, page 23-28. In this timeframe and within a note that was received by the church from the 
aggrieved group said "This church is so corrupt that it ought to be formed over again" and that "it 
was NO church" , or that "there was no church here". 

The letters were given to Susanna Bosworth, Asanath Thomosn, Deborah Churchill, Hannah 
Thomson, Hannah Wood, Faith Fuller, Nathan Fuller, George Drew, Susanna Thomas, Fear 
Thomson, Mercy Pratt^ Joseph Josslyn, Chloe Hathaway, Elizabeth Thomson. CR, Book 2, First 
Religious Society Records, 1 824-1 883 , page 33. The entire listing of people that left to join "Rev. 
Richmond's Church" is found in the Insert History concerning split-off Churches. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 178 

reflect this exodus. In 1832 at the 

founding of the Pilgrim Association, Halifax reported 21 Male and 42 Female 
members with One added and three exiting. In 1833 this tally grew to 20 Male 
and 45 female with none two added and four exiting. The 1834 numbers that 
includes this secession, is reported as 20 male and 45 female members at years 
end. ^^^ The small size of the church did have an impact and it seems that there 
was difficulty in supporting the minister. The Religious Society reports "chose a 
committee to wait on Rev. Howe to see if he will accept of what may be 
contributed by the society for his services the present year, or make a 
proposal...". He subsequently accepted this offer. "^^^ By the end of his tenure 
another 19 had left to join churches locally in Halifax, and another 14 had joined 
churches in other towns. "^^^ This brought the total of those that had left the 
church for other churches in Halifax and surrounding towns to around 100 
people at least ! A majority of the church body had left ! 

It is a proper question to wonder why it is that Rev. Richmond continued 
to have such a hold on a sector of the Halifax Church long after his leaving. One 
reason is that he and his family were local landowners and business 
entrepreneurs locally since around 1800 and before. He owned part of the 
Sturtevant's saw mill on Monpossett Lake and several other properties. In the 
250*** Year Anniversary Book one of the designated points of interest along 
Plymouth Street (then the Bridgewater Path) was the "Richmond Parsonage". 
There was land at the south end of Monpossett (eastern) Lake. '^^^ The home 
located on the South side of the "Path" was located likely in the vicinity and 
behind (southerly) where the firehouse or Rockland Savings Bank is today. 
Since a tremendous number left to join him as a pert of the "Calvinistic Church 
up in Abingdon" I suspect he met with a satellite group locally in his home 
serving as their pastor. In this venue his presence and activity were quite local, 
and he was close by when solicitations of peacemaking came to the fore in the 
Halifax Congregational Church residually. In 1850 he was nominated to be the 
Halifax town's "Surveyor" in place of William Sears but declined the 

Pilgrim Association Yearbooks , 1 832 - 1 834 years as reproduced in the Minutes of General 
Association of Massachusetts. 
"•^^ CR, "Religious Society Records, 1824-1883", page 68. 

The members that joined Halifax Churches are listed individually in the Insert History section. 
Those leaving Halifax to join in other town are as follows: 

Abingdon 2 (1 Calvinistic Soc + 1 Episc), Plympton Cong - 4, Pembroke- 7 (3 Methodist + 4 
Bapt.), E. Bridgewater - 2, Kingston- 1. CR, "Parish Society Records" 1824-1883, pages 130-139. 

Here and Now , page 92, The mill was co-owned with several others and Richmond owned 1/8 
of the enterprise. Plymouth County Land Records Book 175 Page 186, and PCLR Book 183, page 
124 for a listing of his "interest" . Richmond owned land himself in Halifax, and the "parsonage" 
home designated was not owned by the church nor managed by it. <See PCLR Book 277 , Page 
274 and note Richmond as abutter>. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 179 

position/^^ I believe his is why Rev. 

Richmond's presence unfortunately remained strong into Rev. Howe's tenure 
and beyond. 

In other matters besides the tete-a-tete concerning Rev. Richmond, Rev. 
Howe's ministry continued in its own right. Shortly after his arrival Rev. 
Howe's wife, Mary, was welcomed into membership, transferring from the 
"Orthodox Congregational Church" in Southwick. As this timeframe was also 
the time of a great exodus of families and even towns westward, it is likely that 
some folks from Halifax also headed to the frontier. A Transfer letter 
illustrates, "Mrs. Spellman, wife of Rev. Mr. Spillman of Hillsborough, Illinois, 
and daughter of Zebadiah Thomson, Jr., and Granddaughter of Rev. Mr. 
Briggs, former pastor, was dismissed to the Presbyterian Church in that place." 
'^^^ Of crucial interest is the choice of delegates (Deacon Sylvester) to "attend the 
Pilgrim Conference of Churches to meet at Plympton and request admission to 
membership there of.". ^^ The Halifax Church was host to the South 
Massachusetts Education Society on June 16*'', 1833 with an address by Rev. 
William Coswell, secretary of the American Educational Society, and this group 
reorganized into the "Plymouth County Educational Society". Notable this was 
nearing our 100*'' anniversary as a Sunday school. The interest in teaching 
children had not waned in this historic endeavor of the Sunday School in almost 
100 years of service at Halifax. Further adjustments due to the stove were 
discussed in 1834 that "since we have a stove in the meetinghouse the 
Communion be attended once in two months thro' the year, instead of omitting 
it in the winter, and having it every month in Summer, as heretofore. " Likewise 
the social concerns of the church as a community was moving from "Morality" 
into the policymaking area of the church for it was voted on February IT*** to 
recommend that "every member of this Church to abstain entirely from ardent 
spirits.... Or the manufacture of ardent spirits, that every new member sign a 
pledge of total abstinence from ardent spirits, that (for Communion) the 
Deacons procure wine not mixed with alcohol." ^^^ Also, a rule of this 

"^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Three: 1827-1842, page 347, dated June 19, 1850 
"^^ CR, Book Two, Church Society Records , 1824-1883, page 35 

"^^"^ This selection was dated as April, 10, 1833 and was reported upon on April 26*, 1833. It was 
also reported that if a member is permanently away for a longer time than 10 months they ought to 
receive a transfer to an " kindred, orthodox church" and if they do not it shall be the duty of the 
pastor or clerk by writing to him or the church where he resides and sending a letter of 
dismission.". The coordinative bodies of the church were being strengthened to assist in the 
"orthodox" ideal's retention. IBID, page 35-6 

^ On a town to town basis, the temperance movement gained adherents and steam having been in 
the conversations of most town for almost a decade or so. An account from Carver denotes one of 
those sentiments and conversations. In Carver, a temperance area halfway between the Rum 
importing towns of Plymouth and New Bedford, there were a few taverns that continued to serve 
(rum). An interesting exchange occurred just before the 1827 Regulation was imposed (as well as 
the state mandates shortly after) regulating tavemers and retailers. "Benjamin Ellis and Skipper 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 180 

church,,, that decidedly disapprove of 

Balls and parties for worldly amusement, and "cannot think it right for 
professors of religion to attend or encourage such scenes of folly". "^^^ "^^ 
Furthermore, sentiment against "Sabbath Breakers" also grew in the 1820's on. 
*^^ Halifax was also host to the "Anti-Masonic" convention in 1830, a political 
party. "^^^ In another historic moment, the Halifax Church was host to the 
Pilgrim Association on April 29, 1834. The church enjoyed 2 days of speakers 
and fellowship. ^"^^ On note this was the Centennial Year of the Halifax Church 
Family although there is no note on the celebration of this milestone although in 
the Town Records the town did vote to hold a celebration."*^* It is clear here 
that the church's sense of the power of the "congregational body" was 
increasing, feeling it had the upper hand in the formation of polity and 

John Bent were rivals in the iron trade and mm trade, etc, . . . meeting at a town meeting when the 
agitation was at its height, Ellis accosted Bent inn his Bantering way: "What do you say, skipper? 

The ministers say they are going to send us to for selling rum. What do you say to that? " 

The Skipper imposed his opportunity with a piping answer. "I don't believe they can do that. But 

they may send some of us there for mixing too much of Sampson's Pond water with it/' History of 

the Town of Carver Massachusetts, Historical review: 1637-1916 (New Bedford, MA, E. Anton 

and Sons, 1913) page 156-7. 

^^^ CR, Book Two, Church Society Records, 1824-1860, pages 37-8. 

"^^^ This strong stance on temperance was parallel with the strong preaching of Mr. Frost, who was 

delivering a series of Temperance Lectures in many towns in the vicinity and his tour expects to 

come to include Hanover, Hanson, East Bridgewater, Middleboro and Halifax among several 

others. This was the initial volley to organize the Temperance Leagues locally. From the New 

Bedford Mercury (Newspaper), Volume XXVI, Issue 43, page 1, dated May 3, 1833. 

"Intemperance" noting :He has already visited Kingston, Duxbury and Hingham. In the latter 

place.... Six hu8ndred and sixty Seven names were obtained to the pledge of total abstinence, ..." 

By September, 1833, There was formed the "Plymouth County Temperance Society ". The number 

of signees stood at 10,156 (1/4 of the County population) , In Halifax there was created One society 

that had 132 signees. " New Bedford Mercury Volume 27, Issue 11, page 2, dated September 20, 

1 833. "Plymouth County Temperance Society" . Humorously there was a sizable distillery 

operation in nearby Taunton (Advertisement in The Old Colony Reporter (Plymouth, MA, 

Newspaper) Volume 1, Number 5, dated July 4, 1821 <an advertisement>. 

^^^ Old Colony Reporter Volume 1, No. 5, page 1, dated May 2, 1821 "Warning to Sabbath 

Breakers" . .."The recent instance of 2 young men being drowned in Boston Harbor on a Sunday, 

ought tom operate seriously on the minds of the young and old, not to frolick on the Sabbath Day." 

"•^"^ New Bedford Mercury Volume 23, Issue 38, page 3, dated March 26, 1830. 

''^^ In the Afternoon: ~ Rev. Asa Ballard addressed the Pilgrim Sunday School Union 

In the evening:- Rev. Horatio Bardwell addressed the Pilgrim Foreign Mission Soc. 
On the 30^ the Conference continued: 

IN the Morning : Prayer Meeting at the Church, 

In the afternoon: -dissertations on various subjects , and sharing of Communion by Rev 
Timothy Davis and Joseph P. Tyler. ( CR, Book Two, Church Society Records, 1824-1860, page 

^^' Halifax Town Records . Book Three: 1827-1842, page 91 dated 1 1/11/1834. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 181 

regulation. In some ways this is healthy, 
it can also become headstrong to the point of arrogance. 

On January 20*'', 1835, Rev. Howe was asked to join the church by formal 
oath, and was likewise voted a member. This "membership" criteria is carried 
forth to the present day in the fact that Ministerial standing in the UCC as a 
pastor of a church assumes the fact that the ordained person is a member of a 
church (in good standing). '^^^ 

It was six months later in August (27***) that an issue of the absence of 
Stafford Sturtevant was revisited by request of the Sturtevants, who were then 
returning to fellowship. This issue of the censure of the Sturtevants had been 
pending as an issue if discipline since August 19, 1830, almost 5 years ! The 
family had not worshipped there in over three years. This was an issue as 
Stafford Sturtevant was one of the wealthiest men in the region and this was 
very ticklish since the estrangement would lessen the support for the church in a 
significant way. For the next two months and into October it was debated by 
church and some-groups of the church. The following was decided : 

1> On the case of the "Breach of the Sabbath" - Voted Unanimously it was 

"Not proved" by sufficient evidence. 
2> In the case of "Unchristian Conduct at certain church meetings", ~ Voted 

Unanimously that it was not proved, 
3> In the case of "covenant Breaking by going to an Universalist Church 
instead of ours", "Mr. Sturtevant made such confession that we can pass it 
4> The charge of "aiding and countenancing Balls" and this was Proved by 

his conduct and frequent declarations. 
rr was VOTED "he had not made satisfactory confession for, but continues 
th justify himself in, countenancing what the church would call 'scenes of 
folly' ". Voted to give him a further 4 weeks to consider his response and at 
that time the church would vote "yes or no" to restore him. Mr. Sturtevant 
subsequently defended his attendance as being an aid to his son in law and 
"he had not profited from the management of the Tavern, which his son in 
law was part owner". (November 26, 1835). *^^ 

The financial issues of the church did continue and the support of the 
minister continued to wane. Financial records also indicate that the costs of 

^^2 IBID, page 39 

"^^^ IBID., page 40-41. This issue with respect to Mr. Sturtevant would be revisited in March of 

1836 as well (page 44). Of note his son in law was Captain Henry Pope, and "Pope's Tavern" was 

erected around this time by Stafford Sturtevant for Pope prior to 1 830. . It is the large structure 

found across route 106 (Bridgewater Path) on the southerly side, and across from the 

Congregational Church. 

<The construction date is couched in its 1830's use for on October 13, 1830, " the convention was 

held . . . that sent John Quincy Adams to the 23'^'* Congress in Washington, DC". Here and Now . 

page 92. > 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 182 

boarding in the area in people's homes 

was rising slowly. The collection of tax assessments has again fallen into 
arrears and so the potential for conflict had risen. In May and June meetings 
of the Parish Society wrestled with getting the taxes still owed collected. It is 
noteworthy that in the ledgers the assessments were improved and Rev. Howe 
did receive his due support, however, it is obvious the cash flow was not being 
generated. In the latter meeting "voted to order the Treasurer to form a 
Committee to confer with Rev. Howe on the subject of a deficiency in his 
salary the present year." '^''^ Rev. Howe responded by letter to the Society 
dated on August 17*'' '*^^. In summary his proposals are: 
1> I therefore relinquish $65 of the annual stipend beginning from the end 

of the present year. 
2> That the balance be paid quarterly in advance 
3> That there be seven weeks leave instead of four 
4> That liberty be given to abstain from some meetings and family visits to 

accept some other labor other than ministerial to supply the lack of my 


'^^'^ CR, "Fu-st Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 74; and CR, Book 7, Parish Committee 
Treasury Book, 1825-1860. "Oct, 1834 - Dec- 1835", and CR, Parish Treasury Book; 1825-1864, 
page 11-12. 

^^^ CR, Book 2 "First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 75-77. The prelude says as 
follows: Gentlemen of the Congregational Society, A committee waited on me last year to know 
whether I would accept for my salary a certain amount less than my stipulated sum. To this I 
returned a written reply which I requested might be inserted in the parish record. That after ten 
years convenience I judged my annual expenses had been nearer $500 than $400 leaving you to 
draw the inference that I could not in duty give up any part of my expression in the same. Each 
year I have been here I have expended as it seems needful to my usefulness and comfort 
considerable sums derivable from other sources than the subscription or the kind free will offerings 
of the people. I did not suppose when I consented to settle with you that $400 was competent to my 
living among you in such a way as you would wish me to do. And in which I wished to prosecute 
my various duties. 

But considering the peculiar state of the people which it was hoped it would become better, I 
concluded it was my duty to make the experiment of trusting to the private gifts of the people for my 
lack. Accordingly to my answer to your invitation I said under all circumstances in which I meant 
to refer to the particular state of the people J do not wish it a larger sum for I firmly believe and 
trust that if it not a larger sum and if it should not form a competent support the individual 
voluntary offerings of affectionate people will supply any necessity or comfort. As I then feared the 
incompetency of the support (there being no parsonage) and as I then settle on that sum as a 
matter of experiment (the call being unanimous) relying on private gifts to make up the deficiency ; 
so now I am able conclusively to say that my estimate was not wide form the truth. And I do and 
must still rely on and very cheerfully receive those gifts with proper emotions of acknowledgment. 

But, I should by no means have said any thing respecting my willingness to receive any 
private benefactions, were not to propose a relinquishment of a part of my stated salary, though I 
cannot do it without pecuniary loss yet I have given up a part of it because some members of the 
Society have withdrawn to another society formed out of this and because of the present deficiency 
which is now a discouragement ..." 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 183 

5> To hire a solicitor and collector of 

subscriptions , A reduction in Annual salary of $10. 
In the next meeting of the Church, some of the proposals were accepted 
and some were not. Rev. Howe counter-proposed with a new salary 
offering of $300 paid quarterly. This was refused and "negotiations 
On September 21, 1835, Rev. Howe, said that the proposals were as generous as 
he can be and survive in the position and so if this proposal is not agreeable, it 
can be inferred that "this letter to you may be taken as my notice that my time 
of service with you must expire in three months from this date". The Society did 
not accept it and therefore Rev. Howe tendered his notice. His tenure would 
have concluded at the end of December, 1835. On December T***, 1835, Rev. 
Howe had a church meeting at his "home" (where he boarded ??) to dissolve the 
relation with the church and to form a Council to do this. The Council Met on 
December 14 "at the house of Mr. Howe". They reported a vote to agree to 
dismiss Rev Howe, effective on December 21 any they regret " there should be 
necessity of dismission arising from a want of support." *^^ This time a joint 
committee for four from the Church and Five from the "Society" to supply the 
pulpit. <Church = Deacon Sylvester, Joseph Bosworth, Ephriam Tillson, 
Zedekiah Tomson, Sr. '*^^+ Society = Zadok Thomson, Ebenezer Wood, Cyrus 
Richmond, Jabez Thomson, and Jabez Soule ^'^^ > It is likely this committee 
worked very rapidly as the end of the year report for 1835 notes "Rev. Palmer" 
as the Supply and the total membership stood at 65 persons. ^^^ It seems the 
church was also pressed by bad weather in December and on into 
January/February, 1836. ^^^ 

The Society sought to engage Rev. Emerson Paine on March 28, 1836, to 
Preach for that Year for $400. Rev. Paine's acceptance" returned at the April 
30"* Society Meeting. ^^^ Monetary issues were clear in the changes of policy in 
the spring (April 2) Religious Society Meeting. The town tax/ assessment 
collectors were sent out by "school sector", and the tolling of the bell for 

"^^^ CR, Book 2, First ReUgious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 43. It is laudable that the church 

did send Rev. Howe a settlement after a number of back subscriptions were collected. $25 was paid 

on past salary due. This was in April, 1836, CR, "Parish Treasury Book" page 16.. 

^^^ CR, Book 2, First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 44 

"^^^ CR "Religious Society Records", 1824-1883, page 88 

^''^ Pilgrim Association Annual Report, "1835" within the Yearbook of the General Association of 

Massachusetts for 1835. 

^^^ Dec. 15 : Boston at degrees at 7 AM and -1 1 by 6 PM (New Bedford = -13) Another cold blast 

hit the next day and the weather was so cold there was no ferry service to Nantucket for a month. 

Due to the cold. American Winters: 1821-1870 by David Ludlum , page 33. Another similar series 

of storms hit SE Mass in December , 1 839 adding very strong winds. . 

^^^ CR, "Religious Society Records". 1825-1883, page 89, Repeated for 1837 for $400 (page 95), 

Repeated for 1 838 for $400 (page 97), Repeated for 1 839 for $400 (page 1 1 7), Repeated for 1 840 

for $400 (page 120), Repeated for 1841 (unstated $$) (page 122) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 184 

someone who has died will cost 50 cents to 

the sexton. The use of the meetinghouse was also by the Town for meetings and 
business, there being no "town hall" at this point/^^ On March 30, 1840, it was 
determined to discover "whether it is expedient to have town meetings in the 
meetinghouse and to see what compensation the society ought to ask of the town 
for the use of the house for such purposes." '^^^ Shortly after the first mention in 
the town records of the idea of getting a "town house" was broached. ^"^ Rev. 
Paine's tenure was not renewed in 1842, as noted in the Religious Society notes 
of March 28, 1842, "...not to employ the Rev'd Emerson Paine the ensuing year 
and to employ some other man." But amended that to say they'd like Rev. Paine 
to continue until another is found. Also the church would allow the Paine Family 
to use the "minister's pew" until it is "wanted by some other minister's family". 
^^^ The funds for projects did continue as there was a hope to purchase a 
"heavier bell" for the meetinghouse (Religious Society, May 19, 1842) and in the 
June meeting this was increased to "ten hundred or more". *^^ The old bell was 
removed on June 6, 1843 and the new/ larger one installed on June 16*''. In 
October, 1842, it was deemed to hold a fundraiser to raise $100 for the new and 
larger bell through the parish committee. ^^^ One policy change due to the 
difficulties in payment and boarding costs of Rev. Paine and Howe was that 
boarding costs were being paid directly from the church treasury ."^^^ Rev 
Paine's tenure did begin to move the church from their time of conflict but was 
not able to generate the new membership to relieve the monetary troubles that 
would challenge the church at least until the end of the 1800's. There seemed to 
be some hope as the town was again increasing in population. In 1840 the 
population stood at 734. *^^ 

The next pastoral leader is a student at Andover Theological Seminary, 
William Augustus Peabody, and it is likely that he was here as a seminarian 
gaining expertise in the ministry while supplying the pulpit. He was ordained in 
1843, and was serving Halifax for 6 months between March and early Fall, 1842. 

"^^^ In 1 839 The Whig Convention was held in the Halifax Congregational Church. The New 

Bedford Mercury, November 18, 1839, Volume 33, Issue 17, page 2 titled "Plymouth County Whig 


^^^ CR, "First Parish Society" 1824-1883, Page 119. 

^^"^ Halifax Town Records . Book Three: 1 827-1 842, page 193 , notes "/o see if the town will build a 

town house... " "to see if the town will take the surplus revenue to defray the expense of building 

said town house ". fdated- Nov 27, 1 841 ). This first attempt failed subsequently in a vote on March 

4, 1842 to build the Town House (97-, 28+) (see page 194) 

^^MbID, pages 125-127. 

^^^ IBID, Pages 128 and 129., and 140 

^^"^ First Religious Society Records, 1 824-1 883,page 142 

^^^ CR., "First Religious Society", 1 825-1 865" "1 843". The existing bell was raised on June 6 

with assistance by Joseph Watermgm (paid $2) and then the new bell was raised with assistance by 

Ira Sturlevant (paid $1) , Also First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883- Page 141. 

^^"^ Vital Records of Halifax , "Population". 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 1 85 

There exist no records in hand of his 

accomplishments, and it is likely this short tenure was a bridge between the 
prior 15 years of schism and inner conflict, and recovery with growth. 
Financial records show his payments during his short time in Halifax/^ 

Rev. G. W. Ash was likewise a student at Andover Seminary and was a 
year ahead of his predecessor in school. He was ordained in 1842 and likely 
arrived in Halifax as a supply and then was contracted for a short duration. 
The contract with Ash was initially for six-months. He was approached after a 
meeting October 1, 1842. He was supplying the pulpit and was approached for a 
further contract. With little fanfare the Pastorate of G. W. Ash began on a six- 
month to six month contract for $200 plus boarding per contract. "^^^ In the 
following meeting on October 10, it was tended to hire Rev. Ash for four 
Sundays further but a later motion extended that to a contract of 6 month at 
$200 plus board. On January 15, 1843, at a church meeting where Rev. Ash was 
the Moderator, it was decided "to choose a Committee to converse with all in 
our Society who have Entertained hopes that they have passed the great change 
of commotion and request them to meet at a meeting of the Church ...""^^^ 
Records note a low attendance due to weather in the March church meeting. It is 
likely this was a late winter snowstorm that hammered the area between March 
16 and 28*** with snow, wind and heavy rain. ^^^ This is an acknowledgment of 
the watershed moment in the life of the Halifax Church to put behind them the 
difficulties of the past and move ahead. In September, 1843, 5 were Baptized. 
As a review of the prior couple of years, between July, 1839 and March, 1843, 
the membership swelled. "^^"^ 

In the text of the Church Meetings it is discussed that the meeting house 
needed painting. The first discussion of this was on October 1, 1842 and would 
be the opening volley to a more important decision in a few years. It is true that 
this meetinghouse had been well used for 110 years and since the 1820's had 

^^^ CR, Parish Treasury Book, "1842" show several disbursements from July to September. , page 


^^^ IBID, page 23. The first disbursement on Rev. Ash was November 25^*^ for $58 which was a 

quarter of the year plus one Sunday. Also First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 141 

and 142-3. 

"^^^ CR, "1 824-1 860", page 45-6. From this outreach Rev. Ash soon welcomed 1 1 people back in 

the next 6 months. 

"^^^ American Winters: 1 82 1 - 1 870 by David Ludlum, page 33. 4-6 inches of heavy snow. 

"^^"^ Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, pages 45-46- Actually between Mid July, 1839 and 

Summer , 1843, there were several Baptisms and New Members: New Members (Underlined = 

Baptized too) July 26, 1839- Ira Sturtevant , 8/31/1840- Ellis Morse, Mrs. T. S. Sherman. July 21, 

1 842- Mrs. Sabina Thompson , 8/28/1 842- Mrs. Deborah Thompson, Miss Lvdia Bosworth . Miss 

Rolinda Richmond, Dr. Cyrus Morton, Mrs. Lvdia Morton , Mr. Moses Crooker, Mrs Rosanda 

Crooker, January 15, 1843 - Miss Sally Fuller, Mr. Isaac Sturtevant, Miss Olive Waterman, Darius 

Holmes , Mrs. Sally Holmes, Miss Chloe Waterman , April 30, 1843- Mr. Hanna Sturtevant, 

8//1843- Lucy Waterman (Baptized only). 


The History of the Hahfax Congregational Church - 1 86 

been cared for "by the lowest bidder" as 

sexton. It is clear that the poverty of the church and the difficulty of raising 
funds would have a derogatory impact on it's upkeep in a rural community. 

This meager funding challenged the pastoral support picture for the 
foreseeable future. In March, 1843, the discussion around the continuance of 
Rev. Ash centered around his support and a committee was selected to see what 
can be done. Rev Ash, and Rev. Paine and others went into a bidding war to 
supply the Halifax pulpit. This committee would see what "proposals" would be 
put forth by these potential pastors. Mr. Paine won out as low bidder. He 
offered to preach at a salary level of $350, when Rev. Ash offered $450. The 
church decided not to accept Rev. Paine's proposal nor Rev. Ash's, and to 
counter offer at $400 per year. On May 31, with no further proposals 
forthcoming, the Church decided to not continue with Rev. Ash's services as 
pastor. He concluded his short tenure in June, 1843. ^^^ I also expect the 
church's experiment with "contractual pastorates" of this short type was 
concluding, at least for now. 

Knowing this, the church had proactively decided to look at potential 
leadership and in June approached Rev. Anson H. Parmala to settle in Halifax. 
A week later at a June 6, meeting of the church further negotiations were 
warranted with Rev. Parmala and they were to offer $500 as compensation. The 
committee would later be instructed to offer $450 instead. It seems that the 
committee waited for a time to see what Rev. Parmala would respond. It seems 
the offer was not responded to at all. 


iX/^^ *.^ . , 'O'^., //./rf^. 

.^ , . .--_, 

^a^ .>*^. /C, 


^ I'y ^f^f .' y-/i -. 

L__<^?-/. ^^^^ 

Two significant Reports were shared as well at this June 6*'' meeting: The 
report on the cost of the painting ($99.92) and the cost of exchanging the bell for 


CR Book 7 " Parish Committee Records, 1 825-1 860" entry dated 6/1 6/1 843- 
First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 148-9 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 187 

a larger one ($85.43) and both projects 

total $185.55 which was then paid on June 6, 1843 . ^^^ These new expenses 
show that there was renewed interest in the vitality of the church and it's 
upkeep, and further proof the divisions of the past years were fading and 

On October 23, 1843, it was decided to give Rev. Freeman P. Rowland a 
call to settle in Halifax as the pastor of the church. (23+, 5-) The salary would be 
$400 a year. Mr. Rowland's reply had reasons for his not complying with the 
invitation and the insufficiency of the salary was the key matter of concern. 
Over the next month a committee was chosen to confer with him and on 
November 6***, having received an additional pledge of $50 privately he agrees to 
settle in Halifax given that the $450 be paid semi-annually. ^'^^ In November, the 
church began the organizational task of arranging for his Installation. ^^^ On 
December 13*'', Rev. Rowland was received into Membership by letter from the 
Congregational Church in Hanson. ^^^ The letter of transfer is shown in the 
prior image (dated 12/11). In 1844, the Church decided to assess the property 
of the membership and On April 1, chose a team of five to go into the parish and 
visit all members and ascertain the value of their property. (Noted in specific 
some members have property in other towns) A written statement or oath was 
shared with each and likely signed. ^^^ There were in addition individual or 

^^'' IBID, Page 150 see tallies in remainder of footnote below: 


OIL = $ 1 8.00 Difference in Bell weight - $ 66. 1 

400Lbs white lead- $26.00 Carting the Bell- $9. 12 

J.G. Sparrow for Paint - $7.14 Moses Crooker- 2 V2 days getting the old 

J.G. Sparrow - 26 V2 days work -$33.12 bell down and new one up - $2.50 

Moses Crooker- Boarding -$7.10 Lead - $ 0.7 1 

Moses Crooker- Horse boarding -$2.50 Frame wood - $4.00 

Repairing Meeting House- 3 days- $1.50 Ira Sturtevant - $2.00 

Assisting painters (M. Crooker) - $1.50 Joseph Waterman - $1.00 

Time and travel to Boston - $3.00 TOTAL = $85.43 

TOTAL = $99.92 
^^^ First Religious Society Records , 1824-1883 , page 152-3 

"^^^ The churches in "Randolf, Hanson, E. Bridgewater, Middleborough, Plymton, Carver, Kingston, 
Bridgwater, were solicited on December 3, 1843. 
^^•^ Church Records , 1832-1891, page 46-47 
^^' First Religious Society Records , 1824-1883, pages 155-157. 

We the subscription members of the first Religious Society in Halifax am anxious to adopt a more 
permanent and sure system for the support of the institutions of the Gospel than we have had for 
several years past ~ Therefore we do mutually agree and pledge ourselves to pay our proportion 
by such sum of money as the society shall deem we assay be raised universally to pay our Minister 's 
salary and other expenses as said Society said apportionment to be made by the town valuation 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 1 88 

bartered support promised to Rev. 

Howland. Some of these names were already on the subscription and this was in 
addition. It was in expectation that this extra support may make up a shortfall. 
Their obligation is as follows : " We the subscribers agree to give to Mr, Howland 
the value in wood, farming, produce, or such articles as are necessary to his 
support in addition to our yearly subscriptions the sum set to our names, " ^^^ This 
juncture of support was a key measure to organize what was available and 

provided two thirds of the members of the Society who have subscribed anything within two years 
sign the agreement. The conditions of this obligation is such that if any person give notice to the 
clerk of the Society personally on or before the annual parish Meeting they shall be released. The 
society have voted to raise the sum of $455 - which will pay the expenses of the present year and 
one fifth of the Parish debt ~ the above is to be paid , one half on the first of July, the other half on 

the first of January. Dated April 5, 1844. 

William Sears 
Ira L. Sturtevant 
George Waterman 
Moses Smith 
Abigail Soule 
Zadock Thompson 
L. H. Thompson 
Asaph Wood 
Dexter Thompson 
Ephraim Thompson 
William Tillson 
Reuben Sylvester 
Darius Holmes 
Calvin Sturtevant 
Charles Fuller 
Albert Churchill 
Albert Thompson 
Ebenezer Richmond 
< KEY = Underlined ones 

Johis M. Soule 
Morris C. Crooker 
Samuel Churchill 
Thomas Drew, Jr. 
C. G. Morton 
Asa Thompson 
Martin Wood 
Samuel Wood 
John Thompson 
Lewis Thompson 
Alden Leach 
Hermas Holmes 

Andrew Richmond, Jr Cyrus Thompson 
Henry Churchill Nathaniel Sturtevant 

Reuben Thompson, Jr Jonathan Waterman 
Zenas Sturtevant Ward Thompson 
Noah Bosworth Ebenezer Fuller 

withdrawn or erased from the obligation subsequently> 

Jabez Soule 
Caleb Pool 
Joseph L. Waterman 
Martin Bosworth 
Marcia Soule 
Latham Drew 
Ebeneser Wood 
Chipman Porter 
Cyrus Fuller 
Oliver Holmes 
Ephriam Tillson 
Joseph Sylvester 
Abel Bryant 
Ezekiel Waterman 
John Sturtevant 
Levi Morse 
Joseph Bosworth 

L.R. Fuller 
Isaac W. Sturtevant 
Cyrus Morton 
Hannah Waterman 
Jabez Thompson 
James Drew 
Ebeneser Wood, Jr. 
Priscilla Timkham 
Zebadiah Thompson 
John Holmes 
Nathaniel Soule 
Sylvanus Fuller 


First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , Page 160 The signatories and amounts are: 

Zadock Thompson - $4.00 
James Drew- $ 0.50 
Asa Thompson - $0.50 
Adam Thompson - $4.00 
Cyrus Morton - $4.00 
Zebediah Thompson - $4.00 
William Tillson - $4.00 
EbenezerMiller, Jr. -$1.00 
Reuben Sylvester - $ 3.00 

Ebenezer Fuller - $ 1.50 

Stephen Drew - 0.50 

Jabez Thompson - $4.00 

Ward Thompson- $4.00 

Aseneth Wood - $4.00 

Chipman Porter - $4.00 

Joanna Morton - $.4.00 

William Sears - $ 3.50 

Thomas Holmes - 2.00 (later withdrawn) 

Total Pledged = $52.50 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 189 

suitable to support Rev. Howland. The 

following meeting on December 23*^^ has a small, almost non-descript entry as 
the 6*** and final agenda item : "6. To see if the Society will buy or build a parish 
house, or act any thing in regard to the same they may see cause." This was 
"passed over" in the discussions on the January 6, 1845 meeting and in the 
September 1 meeting . ^^^ On September 1, 1845, the parish was solicited to see 
if Hymn Books may be purchased for singing. Three dozen hymnbooks were 
ordered to be purchased "for the choir", which gives some sense of the size of 
the music ministry in that time. ^^"^ Unfortunately in 1844 and 1845 the 
subscribers were not paying their assessments and by December 1845, Rev. 
Howland was offered $400. Rev. Howland 's reply is telling both of his views and 
his circumstances; "...Your Committee came to confer with me relative to the 
subjects discussed at you last regular meetings have informed me that you could not 
get a vote to raise the amount of salary stipulated for the coming year and wish to 
inquire whether I am willing to supply the profession the next year for what may be 
subscribed for the purpose after defraying the other parish expenses- and likewise, 
whether it*s my intention to move back into Halifax. 

Through this committee I would simply reply that in regard to moving back 
to this place, - 1 have always intended to move back to Halifax, whenever I can 
raise a suitable house and within a convenient distance to the meeting house; but 
this I can neither buy nor build. On the possibility of hiring such accommodations 
therefore my removing back to this town must rend. Whether this can be done or 
not, you, gentlemen may know better than myself. 

In regard to the other question, whether I am willing to supply the pulpit the 
ensuing year for what may remain of the subscription after the other parish 
expenses are paid - I would say , that I would gladly agree to any reasonable 
request for your benefit, and as to this could I do it with justice to myself and 
family. But for my personal circumstances I cannot do it consideration with my 
views of duty. 

The whole amount of salary for which you have obtained pledges would fall 
below my annual expense even with practicing rigid economy, and for the present 
Far below, as you may readily see, when you ??? that my rent and fuel amount to 
over $45, and <text broken off> own board in Halifax, nearly half of the time, 
about $100, more; thus thus leaving but a small sum with which to feed and clothe 
my family often souls; and to repay the numerous incidental expenses which 
cannot be named; this even should receive the full amount of your extra 
subscription payable in "wood'* or other articles of Produce necessary in a family, 
which is not all received as some of the subscribers have died and some have 

^^^ This is the first mention of the potential of building a new church building, , First Religious 
Society Records, 1824-1883 Page 163, 165, 166 
^^"^First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 167. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 190 

refused the second year, .... It seems 

that as a result, Rev. Rowland had floated the idea of not leading all services of 
worship, i.e. not supplying the pulpit full time, and a scramble began to secure 
the support or try to bargain further to see of rev. Howland can be swayed. 
Three months later, Rev. Howland repeated his situation and added further 
strength to his plea. His reasons of living out of town were to provide good 
schools for his children, and to be able to afford a home ( He had tried to find 
one in the spring of 1845 without luck). He notes having to board in Halifax 
from Friday till Monday, that time does not allow much to go from "house to 
house as much as desirable". A Minister should "dwell in the midst of his people 
and have lamented the unxious necessity of moving out of town". He therefore 
concluded "he cannot have residence among" the people and asked the relation 
between them be dissolved within a council in early April. This request was 
granted on March 17, 1846. ^^ Between 1843, Rev. Howland continued to 
Baptize and welcome new members ^^^ and to press that the church be involved 
in the broader Associational events and meetings of the Pilgrim "Conference" in 
1845. The April 15*** Spring meeting was held in Halifax and Joseph Waterman 
and Ira Sturtevant were chosen to provide arrangements to entertain the 
delegates from the region. Even more so, the church was invited to participate 
in the Installation of Rev. David Bringham of East Bridgewater at the 
Trinitarian Congregational Church and Moses Crooker was chosen to represent 
the church. ^^^ On March 23, 1846, the church received Rev. Rowland's request 
to dissolve the pastoral relationship and to call a Council for that purpose. Rev. 
Howland was also dismissed and recommended to the Church in Hanson. Also 
in this month, Joseph Bosworth was chosen to represent the church at the 
Pilgrim Conference meeting in Carver on April 5. ^^^ The deliberations of the 
council in March is as follows, '^The council comment that so frequent demission 
occur in the ministry and that there should be any necessity for the call of a council 
to take into consideration the dissolution of a relation which was so recently found 
between the Rev, Mr. Howland and the Church and Society y feeling as we do that 
the welfare of our spiritual Zion depends in no small degree upn the permanency 
of the pastoral relations. 

Voted Unanimously, That in view of all the circumstances^ we feel ourselves 
under painful necessities of ratifying the dissolution of the relation between the 
Rev. Howland and the First Church and Society in Halifax. . . ."^^" 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 170-1 

^^^First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 176-7 

^^^ Book 2, Church Records, 1 832-1 891 , pages 47-8: <Underlined= Baptized> 2/25/1 844- Mr. Levi 

Morse, Fanny Morse, Miss Marietta Goodman, Miss Elira Jane Waterman , 4/25/1844- Arnanda 

Richmond , 

^^'^ Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, pages 47 

^^^ Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 48 

•'^'^' Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 50 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 191 

The Meetinghouse's needs continue 
to amount. In March, J. Thompson paid the assessment on the parish debt 
owed. This was the portion noted as due in January. In June there was a 
request to have the meetinghouse washed but in late June this was deferred to 
the Parish 
Committee. ^^^ 
The supply of the 
pulpit weighed on 
the congregation 
and Rev. Mr. 
John C. 
Thompson of 
East Springfield, 
MA, (Church 
Records note 

Springfield" instead "'^ ) was the choice as an Interim in June to preach in 
Halifax for one year. In June there was a hope that Rev. Thompson would 
continue in Halifax after his year had passed. On June 29, 1846, he responded 
affirmatively for a Year's contract with the contract to begin on August 1.^^^ In 
a subsequent meeting on November 23, 1846, Rev. Thompson was secured as the 
pastor for another 3 years. (Note the Church Records say "from one year to four 
years" as the contract range.(CR, page 51) . On March 21, 1847, Rev Thompson 
and his wife (Lucy Ann) were received in membership by Transfer from their 
prior church in " Ireland Parish, West Springfield" ^^'^ . Sadly, the necessary or 
promised support was not forthcoming and the result was he did not renew his 
contract at the end of the year in August, asking in a meeting on August 4*'' to be 
excused from supplying the pulpit, and returned to Springfield. ^*^ Further 
health concerns had prevented him from performing his duties and he requested 
a termination on those grounds returning to W. Springfield.^*^ After a quick 
Year and a quarter, Halifax was again in need of a pastor. It was also at it's 



First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 179, 181 

Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page48 

Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 51 

Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 52 

First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 184, 187, 188 

Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 52-3 ''July 24, 1847: Having for some three months, 
been unable to preach and there being no prospect that my health will allow me to preach for many 
months to come, if ever ~ last Sabbath I sent in to the church society a request. That my 
engagement with them may terminate with the close of my fir sty ear, which will occur on the next 
Sabbath, the Last in July. " 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 192 

lowest level of membership since 

beginning, and to the present day of 41 members reported for the year 1846 
Within the month, the church had approached Rev. Enoch Sanford of 
Raynham to minister to them. ^^^ He was secured for an indefinite time at first , 
yet the past due to Rev. Thompson remains and was discussed in October of 
1847. On October 7, Rev. Thompson was dismissed and he and his wide 
transferred their membership back to West 
Springfield. ^*^Rev. Sanford was engaged 
in October for a 4 year contract with the 
codicil that "if any Dissatisfaction arise 
separation may take place after Mr. S give 
notice, either by Mr. Sanford or by the 
Society-" The salary was $400 per year. 
This was acceptable to Rev. Sanford and 
the next pastorate began. ^^^ In order to 
assure that the payments not be in arrears 
to Rev. Sanford when he found money to 
be due him he was to approach the 
Treasurer who would then divide the 
amount owed between the various 
collectors (parallels the various school 
districts in Halifax) to raise the needed 
sum. It was also felt that a new pulpit was 
needed and On October 22, 1849, it was 
moved to see if the Society would build a 
new pulpit. In another month, it became 

policy that any money due after the collectors had finished, would be given to 
the pastor in a "note with interest due". ^^^ Things continued very smoothly 
under Rev. Sanford for the next couple of years. In a meeting of April 7, 1851, 
Rev Sanford was voted to continue preaching for three months at $5.00 pre 
Sunday. This would take him to the First of August when his contract would 
conclude. ^^^ ^" In fact it was decided that no extra funds were to be paid out 

Rev. Enoch Sanford 


Pilgrim Conference Annual Report as noted in the Yearly Reports for the year "1 846" found in 
the Congregational Library, Boston, MA. 

Photo courtesy of the Halifax Museum, Susan Basilic, Historian 
Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page55 


First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 188-190 The contract was to commence on 
January 1 , 1 848 and would be for four years. Included in this was "finding him some fuel and 
moving his effects ..." This happened on November 1 7^^ Book 2, Church Records, 1 832-1 891, 

First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 192-3 
'^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, Page 204. Of note $5.00 per week comes to a 
yearly salary of $260 ! ! In 1 830 they paid around $8.00 per week when working per week. 

The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 193 

and the pastor got "whatever was at 

hand" at the time. No extra funds were to be collected. In May ''Rev, E, Sanford 
the pastor having been called to take charge of the Hollis Institute in South 
Braintree requested a release from his engagements, which being granted the 
society requested from him to supply the pulpit till the First of August if 
practicaV^^^ The Committee to find the next minister was up and running in 
late July. In August the meeting voted to confer with Stafford Sturtevant about 
his not contributing to the support of the ministry. Given his considerable 
wealth, the lack of his support would certainly impact the support of a minister 
in the future. ^^^ In December 1851, it was found the cash flow continued 
deficiently and it was resolved to borrow money to make the debt owed. On the 
same meeting a Rev. Mr. Haven was solicited to settle but refused. Then in 
February, 1852, the committee voted unanimously to give an offer to Rev. 
Edward P, Kimball to settle in Halifax and to solicit him as to the support he 
sought. His answer was a salary of $500 a year paid semi-annually. This was 
accepted at a February 17***, 1852 church meeting.^^^ 

Once again the disrepair of the meetinghouse came to bear. Monetary 
problems likely allowed the church building to go into disrepair for some time. 
It had been in regular use for 120 years so it was suggested to repair it or "build 
a new one". This would begin the dream towards a new structure, again. This 
time the need was great enough to warrant a committee. ^^^ Additional 
motivation would come from series of extreme cold weather and high wind that 
would have tested the old structure to its limits. ^^^ It was voted in this same 

^^^ hi the period of Late 1847 through 1848 a couple of people were welcomed: 5/7/1848- Mrs, 
Packard Thompson, Mrs. Clara Thompson, July 6, Desire Tillson , Mrs. Cynthia Porter, Tily Wood, 
10/1/1848-Miss Anna Leach, 1 1/5/1848- Miss Mary Crooker *, 4/1/1849- Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson* , 
2/1 849- Mrs. Caroline Pool. ~ Baptized Thomas Drew on 9/27/2 1 848, Mary Ladmann - 5/6/1 849. 
Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, pages 54-55. <Those joining in this list that are underlined 
were also baptized, and those with a "*" were transferred from the church "Of Rev. Abel 

^'^^ Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, page 56-7 In his tenure there were a few admissions and 
Baptisms to report: 12/2/1849- Mrs. Labina Willis, 4/7/1 850-Alfred Miller, Nathan Miller, Mrs. 
Harriet Richmond, 5/4/1851- Levi Morse (+Bapt), 7/6/1851- Jane Bosworth 
^^^ Book 2, Church Records, 1 832-1 891 , page57 It was further reported in the August 16'^ meeting 
to the committee " he (Stafford Sturtevant) subscribed what they deemed a suitable sum for the rest 
of the year, and that, as he had ceased in his contribution to Rev. Mr. Paine, he having died, he 
gave encouragement to the Committee, that he would contribute with the church, and with them in 
supporting the Ministry more liberally than he had done.."'' 

^%irst Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , Page 210, and Book 2, Church Records, 1832-1891, 

'^^ Fu-st Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 211-2, Meeting dated February 25, 1852. 

The committee chosen on March 8 was Albery Thompson, Ephraim Thompson, Cyrus Thompson, 

Jabez Soule, and Darius Holmes.. 

^^^ American Winters: 1 82 1 - 1 870 by David Ludlum, page 42. High wind then cold snap in 

January, 1852. In SE Mass most places had degrees between the 15*^ and 19**^ amd the entire time 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 194 

meeting to build a new meetinghouse 

(instead of repairing the old one). This motion of not repairing was echoed in 
their report at the March IS***, 1852 meeting. This decision was debated further 
and those who wanted to repair it won the next vote. Another committee was 
formed to handle this issue between repairing and replacing the church 
structure. Likewise this committee could not agree on which to suggest. Then 
there was another vote after they reported and the vote was to repair. YET the 
next motion was a vote to build a new church !! It was then voted to choose a 
building committee to decide on a plan for a new meeting house and to gather 
proposals for building the same. They were also to receive "proposals" for the 
repair of the meetinghouse as well as moving it aside if the new one were built^^^ 
Also of significance, the Town was given notice that they could no longer hold 
their meetings in the meetinghouse after June 1, 1852 and for the Parish 
Committee to inform the Selectmen of this. The reason for this is not given 
although on April 19, 1852, the Town was offered the Old Meetinghouse for 
$450 with some catches in the deal. ^^^. The report of the committee follows as 


the temperature never went above 8 degrees. 

"^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 213-4. This next committee was : E.B. 

Thompson, Z. Thompson, C Morton, A. Thompson, J Soule, V. Holmes. 

If repaired, "it would be finished with the same finish ad the present one inside and out," 

The eventual Building Committee was made of : Ephraim Thompson, Thomas Holmes, Cyrus 

Thompson, Elbridge Morton, and Chipman Porter. 

^' Halifax Town Records , Book Three: 1 827-1 842, page 393 '''Voted that the town take measures 
to build a town house to transact town business and for an armory for the said Infantry, (l^ikely the 
powder and ammunition was stored in the Gallery of the church still) " Voted to choose a 
committee to confer with the Parish Committee and report forthwith to see what they would take for 
this house " (Robert In^lee, Cyrus Morton and Paul Bryant chosen). Later after hearing the report, 
voted NOT to chose a committee to build a town house and then voted NOT to purchase this 
(meeting) house for $450. " 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 195 

imaged and taken from the Halifax Town 

The reasons for the refusal were clear: The church was asking the town to 
move the building from the present foundation, to remove pulpit, stoves, 
underpinnings, steeple and bell, window curtains and the furniture. The 
timeframe was to be designated by the Parish Committee. The town said NO. 
With that the idea of a "town House" was put aside... for now. It was decided 
to find a "suitable place" to hold town meetings for about a year.^^* 

It was at a Meeting on April II***, 1852 that the directions were given to the 
Building Committee for the creation of a new church building. It's 
construction would be supported by the sale of pews within the new 
meetinghouse. Once the decision was made the Church went to work organizing 
the task: 

Meeting: April 12, 1852, 

Voted'-' to build a new meetinghouse according to the plans presented to the Society 
by the building Committee, 
Voted'^ To build a Vestry under the meetinghouse 
Voted^ To leave the building of the Vestry to the building Committee 
Voted^ To authorize the Building Committee to hire money to meet the payments 
as they come due in anticipation of the proceeds from the sale of pews in the new 

Voted- That the Building Committee move the Old House from its present location 
to some convenient place; or otherwise dispose of it as they may think best 
Voted- That the building Committee be authorized to hire money if necessary to 
move the Old House, 

Voted- That the Society instruct their building Committee to confer with Capt 
Pope in regard to purchasing land for the location of the Old House, and should 
they not obtain a lot, or dispose of the house satisfactorily they shall move the 
house across the road on to the Parish land. 

Voted - If they should sell the Old Meeting house and should its location be on the 
parish Land the site whereupon it may stand shall be included in the sum paid for 
the house. The site to be designated by the Committee, 
Meeting: April 22, 1852: 
Voted- Choose a committee to appraise the meeting house pews: 

Zadock Thompson , Jabez Soule, James Drew, plus (out of town folk), Philo 
Leach (Bridgewater), Samuel Alden (E, Bridgewater), Lewis Ripley (Kingston), 

Voted That the proceeds from the sale of curtains be paid to the Ladies Society, 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Three: 1827-1842, page 397. dated May 10, 1852. It is 

interesting that in November they still met in the meetinghouse. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 196 

It is clear that the level of 
excitement was high as the plans and organization of the construction came 
clearer in the Spring of 1852. ^^^ Of further interest is the deferment to the 
"Ladies Society". Many church Ladies Societies were mission-based arms of the 
church's service and in areas of temperance issues. I see that the ladies of the 
Halifax Church were involved in this endeavor from the start. ( See the "Insert 
History of the Ladies Sewing Circle" elsewhere in the study. )In the next 
meeting (July 3, 1852) the pews themselves were discussed. A motion was put 
forth to change the configuration of the construction of the pews from straight 
to circular. The committee took a week to deliberate this and on July 10***, 
"voted- to instruct the building committee to provide CIRCULAR pews for the 
new house." It is this circular format that is retained to the present day.^^^ 

As the building of the meetinghouse progressed and the old meetinghouse 
moved, plans were made to dedicate the new church home. It is also fortunate 
that at this time the church received a benefit from the proceeds of the estate of 
Abigail Soule. The Building Committee members were also instructed to get 
insurance on the meetinghouse.^^"* 

IN the late winter of 1852/3, meeting in the "Vestry" of the new 
Meetinghouse, the sale of pews were progressing and those not sold were to be 
rented or auctioned. The Old Meeting house had been moved down the hill to 
the North edge of the road. It seems likely that no deal was made to purchase 
land from Capt. Pope. It is also likely the building sat on it's "travelers" on the 
side of the roadway without foundation until some determination was made as to 
its fate. The position of this temporary placement was directly in front of where 
the Town Hall is currently but next to the road leaving the "Green" unaltered. 
The new Meetinghouse is finished and heated by coal as well as wood. In a 
vote on February 5, 1853, Thomas Drew was granted an easement "next to the 
Old Meeting House" onto the parish land, and this easement became the 
easement just to the East of the current church as Drew had land behind the 
parish land to the rear of the meeetinghouse. Before this easement entry to the 
church was from the roadside and up the knoll to the doors of the church 
(shoveled in snowy weather) or from the "cemetery" side to the rear of the 
meetinghouse. Another archaic roadway arrived to the rear of the 
meetinghouse on the Western side, going from the road on a grade to the 
current parking lot. This path is still visible from the road (106) just west of the 
church and almost across from the Historical Society Museum, but is overgrown 
with trees. Drew's request and easement would become the main entry to the 

First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 215, 220 


"^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 221. 

^'^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 223-4. The dedication committee were 

Jabez Soule, E. B. Thompson, and J. Drew. 

"^ Parish Treasurer's Account, 1825-1867, page "January 5, 1 853" 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 



meetinghouse environs in the future. 
Additionally, there was a motion at the town meeting concerning the creation of 
an armory for the "Light Infantry Company". Eliab Poole wanted to see if the 
town may erect a structure for that purpose. The hope for creating a town Hall 
was still in the hopes as there continued another request to find a place for town 
meetings. The selectmen were given that task, ^^^ 

The following diagram is an estimation of the road, path and building 
configurations with the first set of sheds after the new church was built, and the 
Old one moved to a temporary site. The cemetery actually came later but is a 
good locus for the overview map. 

First Religious Society Records , 1824-1883 , page 225-6 

Halifax Town Records, Book Four: 1853-1875. , page 1, April 25, 1853. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 198 

As noted in the Church Records , 1824-1883, pages 256-260. 

** Proceedings of the First Religious Society in the Town of Halifax in the reference 
to building a new Meeting House - 

In March 1852 the question came before the Society, to repair the Old 
Meeting House or build a new one, at first the Society were about equally divided, 
some for repairing, others for building a New, after having several meetings the 
Society chose a Committee ofEphraim B, Thompson, Ellbridge Morton, Thomas 
Holmes, Chipman Porter, and Cyrus Thompson to repair or build a new. Afterward 
the Parish voted unanimously or nearly so to build a new House, 

The Parish Chose Philo Leach of Bridgewater, Samuel S Alden ofS, 
Bridgewater and Thomas Ripley of Kingston to appraise the pews in the old House, 
They were valued at $300, 

Earl E Rider of Taunton was employed Architect, D, B, Bartlett of 
Dorchester and Lucus D, Burbeck of East Bridgewater contracted to Build the 

Edwin Kingman ofN, Bridgewater was employed to move the old House, 
jabez Soule and Martin Bosworth contracted to do the stone work for the Vestry, 
The earth was evacuated voluntarily by members of the Society, 

Arthur Miller of CambridgePort furnished the Pulpit and J, S, Deaning of 
New Bedford was employed to do the Fresco painting. 

The parish Directed the Building Committee to appraise the Pews (Done Nov, 30, 
1852) in the New House, According to the vote they appraised the Pews as follows: 



Sold to PremiUi 

m Paid J 



Cyrus Morton 




Thomas Drew 




Elbridge G, Morton 




Chipman Porter 




Ebenezer Richmond 




EphriamB, Thompson 




Jabez Soule 




Zadock Thomoson20,50 



Ward Thompson 




Joseph Sylvester 




John Holmes 




A Richmond/ Wm Ladd 20,00 



Oliver Holmes 




Dependant Sturtevant 




Reuben Thompson 




Ephraim Tillson 




Eliab Pool 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 199 






B. K H. Parris 



CP Vaughn/ Geo, Drew ~ 


Cyrus Fuller/C. Srurtevant ~ 


Stephen Church 







Samuel Churchill 



John Sturtevant 



Samuel Wood 



Hannah Waterman 



Isaac Wood 



Noah Bosworth 



Geo, Jackson/Stev. Crooker 18.t 


Nathaniel Soule 



Nathan Fuller, Jr, 



Py C. Thompson 



Martin Bosworth 



Nathan Fuller 



Ebenezer Fuller 



S, R, Fuller 



George Waterman 19,00 


Charles Fuller 



Shepard Thompson 



Caleb Pool 



James Drew 20,00 


Lysander Raymond 



Ebenezer Wood 



J, T, Z, Thompson20,5i 



Otis & Albert Thompson -17,50 


Stafford Sturtevant 



Parris Holmes 



Joseph Holmes 


TOTALS= $1,880.00 $ 898.75 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 200 

< Insert History > 


There exist a variety of viewpoints regarding the location and mobility of 
the structures as the meetinghouse was constructed. There are a few factors 
that play into the discussion, all of which are covered directly on point within the 
original church records (CR Book : 1832-1883- Church Society), and are 
reflected within the concurrent Parish Society and Treasurer's accounts) 

~Thomas Drew's replacement of the original horse sheds behind the old 

~Land solicited from Captain Pope for placement of the structure for future 
rent or sale, or potential location on adjacent church land to the East of that. 
~The extreme need for repair of the structure of the Old Meetinghouse 
~ease and simplicity of moving buildings 

~Taboo nature of using a town's "green" for location of structures in New 

As the narrative progresses chronologically it can be highlighted as to the 

various placements of the Old Meetinghouse as time progressed. 

2/23/1852 - The committee was formed to designate whether construction of a 

new church or repair of the Old one was the way to go. 

3/8/1852 - The committee was equally divided and initially it was chosen to 

repair, then the committee was again divided. Finally it was voted to BUILD 

NEW "On or near the spot of the Old House". 

3/15/1852 - Further debate and deep division but the view "to build" won out 

and a building committee was formed. The vote the "Build" was clarified. 

"to Chose a building committee of five to decide upon a plan for a new meeting 

house, and to consider proposals for building the same and Likewise to obtain 

proposals for moving & repairing the Old House <Committee chosen> 

4/12/1852- Agreed to a Plan submitted to the committee to build 

-To build a Vestry under the house. 

-To sell pews in the New House to support the construction. 

"Vote of the building committee to move the Old House from its present 
location to some convenient place or otherwise dispose of it. ..." 

"Vote of the Society to confer with Captain Pope in regard to purchasing 
land for the location of the Old House... or they shall move the house across the 
road on to parish land ". 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 201 

"voted that the Building Committee 
sell the Old Meetinghouse..., should it be located on parish Land. The site 
whereupon it may stand shall be included in the sum paid for the house. " 
<Note: The land deal fell through and it is unclear if the Old Meetinghouse was 
moved temporarily across the road onto parish land and then back to the North 
side of the road, Or of it was simply moved to the side of the road (N). > 
2/5/1853- Thomas Drew (an abutter to the church to the North of the green) 
asked permission to have a right a way across the Green/ parish Land "Near the 
Old Meetinghouse". This was granted. 

3/15/1853 - The Building Committee was pressed to "do something with the Old 
Meetinghouse (This was after the dedication of the New One) . 
3/23/1853 - Voted "to instruct said (building) committee to offer the Old 
Meetinghouse to the Town for $ 400 including the land whereupon it mav stand 
with underlving stone. The House to be moved back at least it's length at the 
expense of the societv. " 

- "Voted the Committee to be directed to move it back, repair it outside 
and underpin it." 

-" Voted the Committee have permission to rent the house and to also 
advertise it for that purpose." (Gives the hint that the town was not interested 

3/20/ 1854 - "Voted that the committee of the Old House receive whatever rent 
that may accrue and pay it towards extinguishing the debt for repairs of the 

4/25/1854- "See if the parish will sell or dispose of the Old Meetinghouse or the 
land whereupon said house now stands ." 

Voted "To place the town Note of $700 received for the Old Meetinghouse 
in the hands of the Trustees... and cancel the debt ... for the repair of the 

Thomas Drew proposed to " locate new Horse Sheds for the parish if the 
current sheds would be moved or cleared by the owners." 

So it seems our venerable Old Meetinghouse moved at least twice, possible 
three times after leaving the site of the current structure, and finally coming to 
rest where the current town hall is located. Early photographs, before the 
regrading of the main road (106), later in the 1900's, show a fairly level 
landscape with a short knoll where the church is located. Until it was settled at 
the final destination it is likely it sat on its "travelers" (see Appendix) and its 
foundation stones stored nearby, until land and building's disposition was 
clarified and settled. Putting it next to the roadway (either on the North Side for 
certain, or for a short time on the southerly side) would grant ease of movement 
for anyone who may want to buy the structure outright and move it. (as was the 
case with the Universalist Church later on.) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 202 

Another societal facet of this picture 
in the area of the town "green". In majority of New England towns, the town 
green was not "invaded" by structures or roads if at all possible. Much 
discussion around that would have been the case. Two exceptions would be the 
"church" and "town" (Municipal) structures but seldom. The fact that the 
structure was to be sold to the town was paralleled with that exceptionality and 
so the structure could acceptably be moved into the "green" and positioned as 
needed. This would also give better onus for permission for Thomas Drew (who 
had access to the main road by two other means) to have his "right of way" to 
the main road next to the Old Meetinghouse, a right of way that would 
eventually serve both the church and Town as an entry to the present day. It 
was indeed a tragedy that this renovated building was lost to us by fire early in 
the 1900's. This second meetinghouse built in 1852/3 now also celebrates it's 
ISS*** anniversary as of the release of this study. 

<EDd of Insert History > 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 203 

In the Spring and Summer of 1853, 
the disposition issue of the Old Meeting House continued. As I mentioned in the 
narrative, there was an attempt to buy land from Mr. Pope and have the design 
of moving it either onto purchased land or onto a piece of land the church owned 
a but further East (On the south side of the roadway) and then sell land and 
building outright. Pope's land was not offered for sale so it is unlikely the 
church's first move was across the road. Eventually the committee would be 
instructed to approach the town to see if they would want to buy it. Two 
meetings in March, 1853 formed the crux of the town's viewpoint. At first they 
wanted to build a new one, then tables the topic only to return again to discuss it 
in a couple of weeks. Two choices arose: 1> that they would form a committee to 
build and town house and 2> that they were NOT interested in purchasing the 
now empty old meetinghouse (that they, even though moved) were using. The 
church would have to find a "Plan B" for the old meetinghouse. ^^^ In the April 
11*** Meeting it was decided to move the building back, set it on a foundation, to 
repair the outside and to advertise it for rent if necessary. In this meeting the 
Ladies of the church were given $100 for the furnishing the new meetinghouse. 
The accolades denoted in the warrant show that the Ladies Society was an 
active, but background, portion of this year-long endeavor. ^^^ The town was 
also rearranging it's functioning facilities as the "Old Pound" stuff previously 
located at the NE corner of the meetinghouse was being taken away. ^^ It seems 
the disposition of the Old meetinghouse continued for a year as they were 
working to still repair it in March, 1854. Even so it seems that things had 
returned to a sense of "normalcy" and the ministry of the church continued. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records . Book Three (unpaged) : (1827-1853) March 14, 1853- ''see if the town 
will build or buy a town house, or act on anything regarding the same. VOTED to build a new 
town house. VOTED to table the subject of a town house until the April Meeting. " March 25, 
1853~"Voted to take up the article of the Town House. VOTED- to choose a building committee of 
Three. VOTED to reconsider the vote whereby the Town voted to build a new town house. 
VOTED - NOT to buy this house for a town house <ref erring to the old meetinghouse>. VOTED 
to pass over the matter of the town house for the present. " 

"^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 226, 228, 229. "Resolutions - Whereas the 
Ladies of this Society and others associated with them have done much the past season towards 
furnishing our New Church thereby Materially aiding us in the undertaking therefore resolve J"' 
That a vote of thanks to Ladies be passed by the Society, 2"^ That the Society make them a present 
of $100 dollars and 3'''^ That the Society 's clerk be directed to present them with a copy of the 
above resolutions... " 

as to the Old Meetinghouse, a Committee had been chosen in March to deal with it. Ephraim 
Thompson, h-a Sturtevant, Jabez Soule and Thomas Holmes were chosen. It was in that same 
meeting that it was voted to offer the old meetinghouse to the Town and to have it moved back 
some distance at the expense of the Society. See Plymouth Countv Land Records Deed Book 259 
page 258 -9 (copy in church archives) .Humorously the land the sale included was precisely to the 
inch the size of the Old Meetinghouse with the exception of land down to the roadway. The 
measurements refer to the side of the building in it's perimeter description. 
^"^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853- 1875 -Not paged- . <June 20, 1 853> 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 204 

Likewise the town continued to meet at 

the meetinghouse and may have briefly rented the Old Meetinghouse, calling it 
the "town hall" in their meeting of December 27, 1853, but returned to the 
"meetinghouse" into March following. ^^^ 1854 would be an important year for at 
a meeting on April 10. the town decided to purchase the Old Meetinghouse as a 
"town House". The process took the remainder of the year to accomplish. The 
chronology progressed as follows from the Halifax Town Records: 

April 10, 1854: Voted- The selectmen "Hire a place to hold town meetings. 

Voted a Committee of there be chosen to meet with the Parish 
Committee. <H. Paine, Wm A Peasley, Ephraim Stetson chosen> 

Voted to consider the Parish Committee proposal to sell and give a 
deed of their building to the town of $700. They will hire it to the town to be used 
for all town purposes, for one year for $50. 

Voted the town "hire this house" for all town purposes for 1 year and 
pay the sum of $50. 

April 24, 1854: Rescind the vote to "Hire this house". 

Voted the town Buy this house at the proposed sum of the Parish 
Committee . 

Voted a committee be chosen to carry the vote to into effect in regard 
to buying this house in procuring a deed and seller for the hall, and the selectmen 
to be the committee for said purposes. 

December 2, 1854: At the Legal town meeting at The town Hall in 
Halifax . Voted to have a flight of stairs made suitable for this house. Voted to 
get a lock and a set of keys." At this the renovated Old Meetinghouse was now 
the Halifax Town hall, next door to the new meetinghouse. ^^ 

In March, 1854, the Church raised the question of getting an 
"Instrument" to use for the choir . A week later in the meeting of March 20^**, 
1854, it was voted to buy a "serephene" by subscription. When the committee 
(Ira Sturtevant, Nathan Fuller, Jr, Samuel Churchill and Ira Summer) received 
two-thirds of the price by subscription they would move ahead to draw money 
from the Trustees for the remainder to buy it. ^'^^ 

^'^' Halifax Town Records, Book Four, 1853- 1875, pages not numbered, November, 4, December 

27, 1853, March 13,1854. 

^"^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Four, 1 853- 1875, pages not numbered. It is likely that during the 

period of <ay to November, 1854, the renovations were accomplished such as the foundation, 

second floor installation and roof raised, as well as a variety of needed repairs agreed upon and 

offered by the church. The $700 would be paid over time. The lower level was an open hall for 

use of the tov^speople wereas the upper levels were the various town offices. 

^"^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 230-2. A "Seraphine" is "a musical 

instrument of the reed kind invented by John Green in 1833. Oxford English Dictionary: A New 

English Dictionary on Historical Principles , Sir James A. H. Murray , editor. Volume VIII, part 

"Senatory-Several'XOxford at Clarendon Press, London, 1912) page 491: :"Seraphine" 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 205 

The subsequent meeting on April 
25^** was a busy one that showed the changes within the society of the church. 
Several important votes were considered. It seems the collections/ pledges for 
the musical instrument had yet reached the 2/3 level so it was "passed over" for 
the time. It seems the Old Meetinghouse was sold to the town after it was moved, 
repaired (actually enlarged vertically), and set on a new foundation, ''voted to 
place the Town note of $700 received for the Old meeting House in the Hands of 
the Trustees and whenever a sufficient amount is paid to Cancel the debt 
contracted for repairs of the said (Old Meeting house) house, " So the town now 
owned and used the Old Meetinghouse located just East of the New 
Meetinghouse. Regular payments to the Treasury of the Church helped the 
church's bottom line. ^^^ Any extra funds were to be placed in the church to pay 
the outstanding debts on the meetinghouse and other projects. It is the 
configuration of buildings that exists to the present day. In the same meeting an 
offer from Thomas Drew was received to give land behind the meetinghouse for 
the location of horse/carriage sheds and a committee of five was commissioned 
to handle the transaction and to locate the sheds as they wanted them to be. ^^ 
It is noted that sheds were already there and would need to be moved or 
removed. Additionally, it was voted to buy the "serephene". In the September 
SO^** meeting of the church it was voted to put a fence around the church, and in 
a vote, it was decided to "chose a committee to act with the Ladies in reference 
to building a fence around the meetinghouse." From this we can see the Ladies 
had pressed the committee and were the source of this project. Further actions 
on this meeting of importance was a challenge to a long-standing policy. One 
warrant item not voted or acted on in this April meeting was a request to "see if 
the Parish will permit DANCING in their Hall". Even though this received no 
action, it's consideration on the agenda showed a mellowing of the Old 
Calvinistic harshness prevalent in the first 125 years of the church's existence. 
That non-discussion also shows that it would still be a point of contention or 
difficulty. The well-known Photograph from 1905 of the Halifax Church and 
Town Hall shows the position of the buildings. ^^^ It is of interest visually to 
compare the earlier diagram of the meeting house at its first construction with 
this photograph to show that the second story windows were added and the 

^"^ 1855= $39.77 + 291.00, 1856= 26.75, 1859 = 18.00, Parish Treasurer's Account, 1825-1867, 

pages 59-65. 

^"^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 233-235. It is noted in the record "That the 

present shed owners be permitted to remove their sheds back to such place as may be agreed upon 

by the committee on condition they level the premises about the sheds." A drawing by Guy Baker 

denotes this structure as having 5 bays in each of the two sheds built. (Halifax Museum, Guy 

Baker's card file, Susan Basille, Historian.) 

^"^^ First Religious Society Records , 1824-1883 , -page 237. Photo: Yesterday and Todav. page 27 

The fence construction was still pending in September, 1854. (page 239 of the First Religious 

Society Records, 1824-1883 ) 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 206 

roofline likely raised a bit. The Easement 

granted in 1853 to Thomas Drew is now by this time a place of general entrance. 
A final flourish was the purchase of carpet for the church in 1852 by the Ladies 
Benevolent Society. ^^'^ This group had just been re organized after a short 
hiatus and on April 8, 1852, wrote a new Constitution and covenant and they 
met in the church between 1 and 5:15 weekly. As soon as they were up and 
functional they received the following response to their offer to the Parish 
Committee who decided to build a new meetinghouse: 

"Resolved that the members of the society would be very grateful to the Society for 
any assistance which they may be pleased to render in beautifying the new 
meetinghouse, and making it comfortable, ..." 

That summer the women in the Benevolent Society had taken to making 
shoes and in the late spring through July 28*** had made 186 pairs of shoes. These 
were donated on August 4***. The church gave the women some direction in late 
July as to what was needed in the new meetinghouse. In order to facilitate their 
first fundraiser, a Fall fair, the Ladies of the church divided themselves 
according to the five school districts and planned for a gala event for September, 
1852. ^^ 

With the fair concluded, in October the following was voted for the new 

^"^^ As recorded on the letterhead of Mrs. J. P. Thompson of Halifax the Carpets cost $182 , (This 
was a comparative invoice for when the carpets were replaced in 1889. ) 
^^^ Ladies Benevolent Society Recordbook , Book One, 1842-1855, record dated April 22, 1852. 
^"^^ Ladies Benevolent Society Recordbook , Book One, 1842-1855, dated September 8 and 
September 29 notes the planning and evaluation of the Fair in Halifax. In the ealier date they 
invited the Middleboro Brass band to Play at the Fair. Their assessment noted "77?^ Fair passed off 
fluently. There were several hundred persons present. There was an abundance of provisions, 
flemished. The amount of money raised for the various purposes was : 

Submission articles: 


Fancy Articles 

66.48 V2 

Guess Box 


Ring Cakes 




Post Office - 


Examination of Heads 


Gentleman 's honors 

1.16 V2 




Blame Mange (?) 

TOTAL- $246.92 

< Other Sales = 





The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 207 

"-VOTED- the committee for purchasing 

articles for the Society, pay $190.00 to Pratt and Kingman to pay for the carpets 
for the new Church. 

VOTED -to obtain curtains of ????? of Boston at 15 cents per foot. 
VOTED - that G.S. Thompson purchase a covering for the pulpit and its 
furniture." <The choice - "Green flanner'>. 
At a subsequent meeting it was further decided: 

"Voted that the Society keep the remnants of the carpeting for to carpet the 

The notes do not mention the Cushions the women of the church purchased as 
ell in 1853. A note to pay the "carting" by Ephriam Thompson is lodged in the 
Town Archives. 


' *- 


. :.A 

- /) ....^ 

This was all completed in the winter of 1852/3 because the Ladies Benevolent 
Society held it's February 2, 1853 Meeting "In the Vestry" where they voted to 
purchase cloth for vestry curtains, too. 

The hard-working women of the church still had more to offer. In their 
March 5, 1853 meeting they took on the "outside" of the church in the following 

"VOTED there be a committee of two to make inquirys in regard to 
furnishing trees for the ground around the new church, " 

By summer this was capitalized upon as 20 volunteers filled in "the hollow" 
near the church. The women of the church gave them all refreshments (Tea and 
cakes) after they had worked through the day. ^^^ Generally after this, the 
Women's Benevolent Society met in the "Vestry" below the sanctuary and 
occasionally at the parsonage. (March 1, 1854). This momentum continued 
into the fall as discussions were held about a fence to enclose the church. 

^^^ These motions are from Ladies Benevolent Society Recordbook , Book One, 1842-1855, dated at 

October 6, 1852 and December 15^^ 1852. 

"' Ladies Benevolent Society Recordbook , Book One, 1842-1855, meeting date June 8, 1853. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 208 

Between June and October, 1854, the fence moved from idea to reality and with 
expectation that it would be installed by the following May (1855). There are 
many early photographs of the church with this fence surrounding it. ^^^ Sadly, 
the fence will have to wait for installation until 1858. 

Mr. Drew's offer of land behind the church for Horse Sheds mentioned 
previously would compliment the decor of the new Meetinghouse. The following 
photograph, although from around 1905 vintage, shows the position of the new 
sheds and their size and configuration. 


The Chronoology is as follows: 
June 28, 1 854- " Committee of Ladies were chosen to consult with the Parish Committee in 
reference to getting a fence to enclose the church. 

October 11,1 854- "Mr. Jahez and John Soule... chosen to examine the fence around a church in 
Kingston and report to the secretary its cost. " 

" VOTED for the Socirty Treasurer $50 to he paid out. 
November 8. 1 852- VOTED to let the gentlemen collect money the following winter to help gewt 
a fence provided... the fence would be done the next May. " 


Photo from Yesterday and Today , page 27 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


I suspect 
the range of 
projects and 
issues were 
such that it 
kept Rev. 
Kimball very 
busy indeed. 
In times past 
there was an 
issue of 
support for 
the pastor 

being an issue, and in the notes of the Meeting on September 30*'', 1854 there is 
evidence that he was a School Teacher as well. It is likely that the teaching 
supplemented the meager support from the church. It was at this September 
meeting or just prior that Rev. Kimball tendered his resignation and gave three 
months notice, therefore concluding his pastorate in Halifax in December. In the 
background of the meetinghouse construction and other things was a level of 
discontent that would revisit the foreground at this time. Insofar as the church 
felt this they laid out two "resolves" in that September meeting; "Resolved ~ 
That the Gospel Ministry, or the holy art of Teaching. Convincing and 
persuading, demands habits of severe discipline and requires solid learning and 
is preeminently an intellectual work requiring the best efforts of mind and 
giving scope to all its faculties ~ RESOLVED ~ That the Rev. Edward P. 
Kimball as a minister of the Gospel or a Sermonizer does not exhibit those 
qualifications which are essential to the increase of knowledge, the growth of 
society, the edification of his hearers and justly to entitle him to the appellation 
of an acceptable preacher." The discussion took a month and it was voted to call 
a mutual council to dissolve the pastor and parish connection and that the 
connection cease by January 1st. Rev. Kimball concluded on November 1. ^^^ 
In addition to this, it was also decide that they needed to "hang the bell" but 
that task would be left to the choice of the Parish Committee. Rev. Kimball's 
debt owed him was finally paid in full on Nov. 8, 1854 with a final payment of 
$10.10. ^^^ 


First Religious Society Reco rds, 1824-1883 , page 238. 
Parish Treasurer's Account, 1825-1867. "1854" 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 2 1 

PART 5. 

The Mid-1800's and Civil War Era 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 21 1 

A) 1855-1860- Pre- Civil war era 

Religious associations expanded their impact and value as ministers joined 
them from wider and wider areas with delegates able to attend from distant 
places. The various Railroad systems had the ability to handle the regular 
transportation of clergy and church delegates region wide and at times at a free 
or reduced rate. The Old Colony system, one of the oldest, fed through Boston 
and from there regionally and nationally if necessary. ^^^ In essence, the area 
meetings were becoming more or less regional and this in turn gave rise to state 
and national societies, boards, and associations.^^^ In 1846 there was a 
consciousness of the churches as a national body which was spurred by a regional 
meeting of Western churches, who decided to continue to embrace 
Congregational norms in their faith, similar to those of New England. Two items 
of note in this area come to light: First in 1853, the Pastoral Association of 
Massachusetts (formed first in 1824) modified themselves agreeing to accept 
"and recognize clergy from other areas of the state" ^^^, and second, on May 29, 
1844, a committee was approved in Boston to "take into consideration what 
measures are necessary for the reaffirmation and maintenance of the principle 
and spirit of Congregationalism". ^^^In May 1844, there was a move to reaffirm 
the principles of the congregational denomination in celebration of the 200th 
anniversary of the Cambridge Platform. Since the early 1800*s joint efforts of the 
Presbyterian and Congregational Churches to erect churches in the West had met 
with marginal impact, but there was a split in the Presbyterian Church and some 
dissent in the local church. The Congregational group decided to reassert its own 
doctrines singularly. ^^^This was agreed at a regional meeting held in Albany, NY, 

^^ The Old Colony Railway was incorporated on April 13, 1838, not long after the use of rail 
transportation was begxm in the Middle Atlantic as a mode of transportation. Farmers could earn 
extra money by stacking wood from their land for the railroad near the tracks. The Plymouth 
branch of the railway was opened to Plymouth in 1845. It's northern connections included Hanson, 
Whitman, Abingdon and so on. Specific to Halifax "Ebenezer Lobdell, Seth D. Eaton and 
Ebenezer T. Lobdell were incorpotated on May 2, 1 849, to build the Silver Lake Branch Railroad 
from a pouit near the old Colony Road not more than 1200 feet from the depot at Halifax and 
proceed by the Old Colony Road to Jones River Pond, thence branching North and South along its 
margin a distance not exceeding 1 .5 miles. . ." History of the Old Colony Railroad from 1849 - 
present, lUuistrated., (Harper and Brothers, pub., Boston, 1895) pages 30, 65, 349. 
Later on a new stop was requested: Hahfax Town Records . Book Five: 1875-1908, pages 495, 
April 16, 1 898; "to require the Old Colony RR..., to locate and maintain a regular station at 
Monpossett called and to maintain a flag station in place of the regular station at Halifax. " The 
vote was 44+ and 53 -. " 

^" American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missions (1810), Connecticut Minister's Association (1816) 
were the earliest. History of American Congregationalism, page 192-198. 

^^^ IBID page 285-6 

^^^ IBID, page 282 

^^^ This solidification of Congregational polity also solidified a coordinated Congregationalism 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 212 

in 1852. It was in reality the end of the 

joint missionary venture with the Presbyterians. However, this was the formal 
genesis of the national Congregational body. The Boston Female Society for 
Missionary Purposes (ca 1800) channeled money and help to foreign missionaries 
and by 1839 the Board's Annual Report listed 680 local ^'ladies Associations** 
within their ranks of support. ^^* One of those 680 was the Ladies Benevolent 
Society in Halifax. An overview of their history follows: 

regionally throughout New England. Work continued in the mid-1 850's onward to foster a deeper 
sense of covenant and mutuality within the context of the uniqueness of congregational -based local 
power. I'd say the formation of the Congregational Library in Boston in 1 851 solidified this as 
well. IBID, page 288. 
^'^' Hidden Histories of the United Church of Christ pages 142-143. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 213 

Women's Missionary Work and Sewing Circle: 

1842 - 1900 

The challenges of the first half of the 1800's as well as the rise of information 
traveling by newspaper, mail and eventually the telegraph gave rise to mission work 
abroad; never mind the raib*oads allowing people to cover vast distances safely and 
repeatedly. The additional rise of massive social concerns to include evangelism of 
the inner parts of AMca, of India and the Orient; the rise of anti-slavery sentiments in 
the Northern states; the push west to cover the frontier, the schooling of black and 
hidian children nation wide, and the improved efficiency of ships of trade traveling 
worldwide made for increased opportunities. The individual churches of New 
England banded together to support many efforts, as mentioned elsewhere in the study, 
through numerous organizations and coalitions. Individual churches formed 
"benevolent societies" or "sewing circles" which were dually a social gathering of 
women in a locality as well as a service organization coordinated in and through the 
local church. Halifax was no exception in service and mission work. 

The preamble of the Record Book of the Ladies Sewing Circle of Halifax is 
as follows : " The Ladies of Halifax being desirous of aiding in the great cause of 
mission concerns convened at the gouse of Mrs, Crooker on Wednesday, August 3^^ 
(1842) and formed themselves into a Missionary Sewing Circle, the object of which 
is to provide clothing for a Missionary Station in Lower Canada under the 
direction ofMadamme Fuller, 

There were present at this time 6 members, consequently but little business 
was transacted." ^^^ 

The formation of this organization was also announced in the lecture on 
Wednesday following. The next two meetings were formative but still unable to 
create the organization until the meeting on August 17, 1842. The first 

officers were as follows: 

Mrs L. H. Morton - Secretary Miss Rolinda Richmond- Treas. 

*Miss Mehitable Wood *Miss Lois Fuller 

*Miss Aroline Soule (##f ^^ *Miss Tilley Wood 

*Miss Hannah M. Thompson <*> =Committee to arrange work > 
A President was to be chosen at each meeting as it traveled from home to home. 

^^^ Halifax Missionary Sewing Circle, Volume 1, (Not paged) but page 1 and 2 
^^^ She was actually a member of the Kingston Trinitarian Church. (Notes from Guy Baker says 
that she read 3 poems at the dedication of the meetinghouse in Halifax in 1852.; Halifax Museum, 
Susan Basille, Historian.) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


-^ r , .^t, Jk.*-*jr^.f. .. </« - ^„ ^ .V dr ^. . ^ ,^^ 


>^ « 





This first page of the Records of the Ladies Group is the Mission 
statement and Constitution dated August 2, 1842. 

The report of their mission work totals is noted in an entry for November 16, 
1844 . This following illustration is taken from the Ladies Circle's Record Book 
dated March 10, 1845. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 215 

^ ^f:.. ^. . /, '^C'V, j^ .[ , /y^ ./ 


When the new church was built in 1852, this Sewing Circle made 
significant contributions. They took on the cost of the remaining bill for the 
steeple as well as the cost of 485 feet of pew cushions for $220.90. For this they 
were recognized by the Parish Society" with a gift of $100. 
In fact this was a time of change for this group as they re-organized ( in April, 
1852), themselves to be renamed as the Ladies Benevolent Society with a new 
Constitution and Officers on May 5, 1852. . 

This group continued monthly until around 1863 when they did not meet for a 
ten year period until February 26, 1873, when a group met "for the purpose of 
organizing a Sewing Society with the following officers being chosen: Mrs. 
Capt. W. Tillson, Pres., Mrs. Albert Thompson, Vice President, Mrs Sarah E. 
Poole, Secretary/ Treasurer. ( NOTE: At the end of the Civil War this group 
again had lax membership and reappeared briefly in 1869 when it re-oi^anized 
as a Town-wide entity on March 16, 1869 calling itself the Halifax Benevolent 
Society. Only the organizational meeting is entered into the records and it 
seems this organization went into hiatus as soon as it was formed) Their 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 2 1 6 

subsequent meeting on April 23"^** (1873) 

said , "Voted to have a Levee on the eve of may 8f^y also to have a Post Office Grab 
Box and guess cake". Admission fee 50 cents including supper, Mr, Watson 
cooked the oysters.^ The money raised in this endeavor also was dovetailed into 
the needs of the church. Under the same date (eg- May 5^*, 1873) the report of the 
'Hevee" is entered. The May Party took in $247,29, Immediately $200 was voted to 
the Parish to paint the church". The social atmosphere of this group continued to 
grow. On July 21, 1875, they voted to have a Croquet party. Held at the town HalL 
The sale of tickets = $17,00, Ice Cream came to $5,20, " In 1876 **voted to have a 
Centennial Party, Mr, Otis Pratt was the committee on music. They made $155,69 
on this party. That same year the group voted $60 towards support of the 
preaching for four months. Also to pay the sexton $16 for 6 months service, " 
This industrious group of women became a successful support for many areas of 
the church. In the 1880's the group's interest also included the needs of the 
Halifax Church. Several donations of money and hired labor dot the chronology 
between 1880 and 1900 for repairs, fences and pastoral support over and above 
mission work and support. In the 1890's the number of town-wide events 
increased as did a variety of outings and cultural events for the group. 

This group continues to the current day through the Friendly Circle. 



The History of the Halifex Congregational Church - 2 1 7 

As the nation progressed towards the inevitable Civil War period, the 
polarity of views between the slave- holders and abolitionists divided the country. 
Solidly within the view of anti-slavery, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other 
states continued to support the anti-slavery motif. The 1839 formation of the 
Amistad Committee whose purpose was to support and defend the In 1841 
hijacked shipload of Africans who had commandeered the slave ship and tried to 
sail it back to West Africa and had ended up off the coast of CT and were jailed in 
New Haven. This battle of views of human ownership (slaves are property) versus 
abolitionist views collided up to the US Supreme Court with past President John 
Quincy Adams defending successfully in 1841. ^^ This effectively energized New 
England's anti-slavery stance and was certainly widely read in the Halifax 
Community. In (August 18), for example, the Union Missionary Society was 
created in Hartford, composed mainly of '* people of color" from several states. It 
was hoped that evangelism, not war would solve the breech of opinion in the 
nation. In 1846, the American Missionary Association was also created to , in a 
positive way, aid and educate within the states regarding slavery. The leadership 
was a collection of highly capable and dedicated leaders and thinkers. The most 
brazen missions were the opening of schools for black men and women in the 
South by the AMA within the pre-Civil War period. The AMA was also quite 
instrumental in the creation of numerous black churches.^^^ 

The Massachusetts abolitionist sentiments were adding anger to the 
ongoing temperance (etc) movements. In the early 1830's ^^, Benjamin Lundy 
created the "Public Liberator and Journal of the Times". This paper was as 
radically religious as it was also political, even occasionally demanding Northern 
Secession on the grounds of the diabolical natures of the Southern States. (1843 
edition). Empowering this was an overseas enactment of the British Slavery 
Abolition Act, followed in 1848 with complete abolition of slavery in the French 
Empire. In the Mid- West John Fee and Theodore Dwight, who taught at Lane 
Theological Seminary (Cincinnati, 1834), and Asa Mahan at Oberlin College 
(1834) caused their schools to become scholastic camps for anti-slavery 
movements. The cause was fueled greatly by the murder of James Birney (1857) 
who was killed as his 4th printing press was being broken up due to his printing 

^^ The Shaping of American Congregationalism by Von Rohr, page 279 
^^^ Hidden Histories of the United Church of Christ page 81-94. 

In 1839, a Spanish slave ship (off the coast of Cuba) named the Amistad was captured by 42 slaves, who killed 
the captain, imprisoned the crew and hoping to sail back to Africa, ended up in New Haven harbor. Past 
President John Quincy Adams was one of the defense lawyers and after 2 years of litigation the court 
pronounced them free. In 1841 they were returned to Africa and the case became a halhnark for anti-slavery 
feelings. See A Religious History of the American People page 203-204. 

^ The actual date of publication was January 1 , 1 83 1 . 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 21 8 

of anti-slavery papers. This cemented the 

sentiment that slavery and freedom could not exist within the same country. 
Likewise, the southern states marshalled sentiment, rhetoric, politic and 
evangelism to the cause of pro-slavery. Viewing the black race as a "lesser 
creation", the south countered with "wage slavery" against the North referring to 
the low wages paid in factories as a worse means of exploitation. All in all, the 
increasing activity of the underground railroad went far to further separate and 
polarize these views between North and South. ^^ The anti-slavery movement 
and evangelism was becoming a national movement, both emotional and political. 
The town records resonated the sentiments against slavery in a meeting of March 
13, 1854 in a Resolution. ^^ 

This backdrop of sentiment did not go unnoticed by the churches nor 
denominations. Some of the debate was actually fueled by religious sentiment^^^ 
The fight was also lodged in the hearts of the people. Many voluntary associations 
and auxiliary groups were created and were soon embraced or incorporated by 
mainline denominational church bodies. The social gospel of anti-slavery in the 
1850's was moving ahead and winning converts while gaining momentum. ^^^ 

^^' Freedom of thought in the Old South by Clement Eaton (Duke University Press, Durham \ NC, 1940), 
page biff, and A Religious History of the American People, page 98-105. 

In the preface of the book , Clement Eaton notes "two great taboos in the social life of the Old South 
exist 1 ) criticism of Southern Slavery and 2)the heterodoxy in religion. 

In fact, Ahlstrom adds it was illegal to speak against the ideals of slavery in the South as early as 1 839. 
(Ahlstrom, page 104). 

Part of this scene was also demographic. The reticence of the Southern States regarding the ceasing of 
slavery may have had some rootage in demographics as by 1860 the slave population approached 3.5 Million 
and slavery was a supreme control of an "inferior race". Politically the stage was set for confrontation. See 
Ahlstrom, pages 100-101. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Four, 1853- 1875, pages not numbered, March 13, 1854 : 
''Resolved that the Bill now before Congress entitled 'A Bill for the governing of Nebraska and 
Kansas ' , which provided for the repeal of the 'Missouri Compromise ' thus admitting slavery into 
that vast territory once solemnly consecrated to freedom is a violation of good faith, a violation of 
the rights of the North, and an outrage upon the harmony which we cannot reconcile, nor quietly 

Resolved, that such repeal shall with us dissolve every party tie, and be the signal for an organizing 
whose standard shall be, no more slave states; no more slave territories, No Domestic Slave trade, 
and the abolition of slavery in every district and territory, within Federal jurisdiction, and that 
rather than attempt to conquer our prejudices in favor of freedom through southern threads of 
Disinion, we will welcome even that as a sure destroyer of American Slavery". 

A zealous seminarian named John Gregg Fee (Lane Seminary) says "I saw that to embrace the principle 
(of abohtion) and wear the name wa to cut myself otT from relatives and former friends.. "Yet one day after 
being in prayer within the nearby woods. Fee consecrated his life to the abolitionists ,"Lord, if needs be, make 
me an abolitionist" and noted he rose "with a consciousness that I died to the world and accepted Christ in all 
the fullness of his character... " A Religious History of the American People , Volume 2, page 96, note # 4. 

""^ A heavy blow was struck when the wife of a Congregational minister wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1 852. 
Harriet Beccher Stowe " was sure that God wrote the book." The power of conscience and faith were now 
joined in this struggle. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 2 1 9 

Within the local churches stirring, new 

hymns were sung such as James Russel Loweirs 1844 hymn "Once to Every Man 
and Nation's and Julia Ward Howe's "Battle Hymn" in the 1860's.^^* The 
continuing revivalism and emotional height of religious feeling was being 
translated into the anti-slavery campaigns. As noted elsewhere the long list of 
"social evils", the issue of slavery was made prominent in the 1850's. The deep 
millennialism surrounding the ongoing belief in the Second Awakening was being 
presented to both the North and South, further enhancing their viewpoints to 
fight (battle) to be on the right side "of God's Judgment". The hope for a peaceful 
settlement was fading completely away as church denominations split apart over 
this issue. Luckily, Congregationalists, Universalists, Unitarians and others 
escaped this split as they were basically anti-slavery and were regionally northern 
denominations. The hardening of the churches was a powerful factor in the 
road towards war, with morality for anti-slavery on one hand and divine 
justification for slavery on the other. The Republican victory (Lincoln) 
precipitated the secession of Southern states in February, 1861, followed in April 
by the bombardment of Fort Sumpter in South Carolina. 

Local churches were given a heady mix of revivalistic preaching, anti- 
slavery literature, and nationalistic fervor regarding the issues addressed by 
associations. More than likely the Plymouth area churches were immersed into 
the literature and the passion coming from those who traveled the stage routes. 
The 1839 Amistad Case, as noted before, caused by a revolt when a group of 
slaves took over a slave ship and sailed it North to Connecticut, exploded and 
galvanized the slavery issue into prominent national consciousness.^^"^ Their 
subsequent innocence gave grounds for tremendous anger from the pro-slavery 

"' This crusading hymn written in the Autumn of 1861 was penned as the words "came to Mrs. Howe one 
sleepless night." Two verses not in the modem songbook are :" I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred 
circling camps;/ They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps; / 1 have read his righteous 
sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;\ His day is marching on, (REFRAIN) 

I have read a fiery Gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel,/ "as Ye deal with my contemners, so with you my 
grace shall deal";/ Let the Hero, bom of woman, crush the serpent with his heeiy 
Since God is marching on." 
A Religious History of the American People , Volume 2, page 117. 

Southem writers also created their own hymns and sentiments as well. 

"^ Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists all split regarding views on slavery. Lutherans , Episcopalians and 
Roman Catholics divided regionally after the secession "divided the country" officially. 

"^ Of note about the Unitarians: This faith system did leech members and churches from the 
Congregational fold. Between 1840 and 1857, the nu8mber of Congregational churches declined 
fi-om 684. down 103 to 581 in 1 857 (not including 1 1 that split or folded up). " An Historical 
Sketch of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts , by Clarke, page 281 
"'* A Religious History of the American People , page 203-204, and Celebrate Connecticut page 138. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 220 

One of the supply preachers after 
the departure of Rev. Kimball was Rev. Timothy G Brainerd and in fact Rev. 
Brainerd Baptized one of Rev. Kimball's sons on his first Sunday in Halifax, 
Nov. 11, 1854. He continued as supply throughout the winter of 1854/5 and at a 
meeting of the church on February 10, 1855, it was determined to ask Rev. 
Brainerd to settle in Halifax as pastor of the church. His salary was to be $650. 
^^^ In April, 1855, plans were beginning to plan Rev. Brainerd's Installation. 
He and his wife began to circulate in the community to get to know the people. 
On May 16, 1855 Mrs. Brainerd was a "visitor" at the Ladies benevolent 
Society .^^^ The Ecclesiastical Council met on June 27, 1855, and voted to be 
installed. ^^^ On October 30, 1856, Rev and Mrs. Brainerd were received into 
membership by latter from the Presbyterian Church in Londonderry, New 
Hampshire. ^^^ 

In the following year, the church welcomed a few new people and baptized 
as well. It also continued to be represented in the Pilgrim Conference and 
various Councils called locally. ^^^ The town of Halifax also continued to grow 
in size to a population of 786 in 1855. ^^ 

An 1858 summary statement for April 8, shows the church's overview of 
the religious sentiments of that day: 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1 824-1 883, page 244-6. An oath for subscription was put forth 
to the membership based on the valuations made of their homes, etc.. The Valuation was calculated 
to be at $1 12,000 and the applicable valuation for this task was $70,000. From that the support was 
solicited and 70 persons signed the obligation. Also of note here is that the musical leader was 
also a paid position. Edwin Thompson was paid $25 for leading singing for three months, (page 
248) . Also Ira Sturtevant was the musician that Played the "instrument" for the church and he was 
granted a "gratuity" of $50. Unfortunately this did not continue as there was a solicitation to see if 
anyone would play it in May and then voted to "invite someone to play the violin and Bass 

"^ HaUfax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), dated May 16, 1855. 
Soon after the ladies' Society opened their first account in a bank in Plymouth and on May 7, 1856, 
voted "/o place 50 dollars of money now in the Treasury into the hands of Dr. Morton to deposit in 
the Five Cents Savings Bank in Plymouth ". 
"^ Church Records Book two, 1 832- 1 891 , page 67 
"^ Church Records Book two, 1832- 1891, page 65 

"^ Church Records Book two, 1832- 1891, page 68. New members welcomed are 3/1/1857 - Mrs. 
Lydia Holmes, Miss Preston B. Holmes, Miss Sarah B and Lucy M. Thompson, Mrs. Lydia R 
Sylvester, Mr. Moses Tilson, 6/18/1857 - Mrs. Abbey Tillson. On June 7, 1857- Ephraim and Eliza 
Thompson were Baptized. The Ecclesiastical Councils and Pilgrim Conference meetings : 1857 
Meeting in Carver on May 20 , Oct 22, 1857 Pilgrim Conference in Hanson, Ecclesiastical 
Council in Plympton on March 22 (deal with an excommunication) 

Vital Records of Haifax , "population" ; The Town's population stood at 784 in 1 850 2ind then 
up to 786 five years later. This was likely one of the precursors of the wish of the townspeople to 
open another school in the lower level of the town hall. Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853- 
1 875, not paged; November 20, 1 858. The school was voted in and was held there for several 
years onwards. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 221 

"/ view of the extensive 
revivals of religion now enjoyed in so many places in our land a motion by our 
pastor on the Sabbaths that this afternoon he observed as a season of humiliation 
and prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit i^on us and the revival of his 
work in this place. The Vestry was well filled by members of the church and others 
and a good degree of solemnity pervaded the meeting, '* ^*^ The archives of the 
Church contain several written and delivered testimonials from men and women 
in the church dated in the 1850's and early 1860's. These are filled with deeply 
heartfelt faith and zealous service. 

It is clear this zealousness continued to be generated in the women of the 
church. In May, 1857, a town wide collection of items to be sent as aid to 
Kansas. Noted the collection and the support was beyond expectations. Further 
drives and support was next directed tin the Fall towards the '^Indian Orphans' 
Asylum at Cattaraugus Reservation, Oneida County. NY and the works of that 
asylum...". ^^^ 

In the next year, finally, the fence around the church was installed. 
It cost the church $110. Also the Ladies voted their wish to have the church 
painted in September, 1857 and to give the Parish Committee the money 
"earned by the Society" from the Bank. ^^ 

At a church meeting it was proposed to replace the weather vane on the 
top of the steeple, and to paint the meetinghouse. It is likely this was postulated 
due to the storminess of the prior winter. ^^ It was decided to have a pew 

^^* Church Records Book two, 1832- 1891, page 69 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), Of note also is the 

coordination with other churches in the community; notably the Baptist Church fair held in the 

Spring of 1857. 

^^ Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), May, 1858 "Annual 

Report" notes ''when the fence around the church was put up the Society paid for it.... The 

committee of gentlemen of the Parish thought it best to continue a fence extending from the iron 

fence around the church, westward to the end of the parish land. (Voted down) 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), Mr. Fuller was given 

$21 in October for the paint. 

^^^ Of note the cancellation of the Ladies Benevolent Society's Meeting on May 28, 1856 due to a 

severe storm. Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), 

Also : American Winters: 1821-1870 by David Ludlum. In January (15-16) it dropped to 1 1 

degrees quickly and 15 inches of snow fell. Then shortly after another 12 ". In the next week there 

were high winds and Long Island sound was ice bound for 20 days and temps sometimes dropped to 

- 10 in Boston and lower in SE Mass. In this " Winter Hurricane" There were high gales with 18' 

drifts and many 

church spires all over New England blown down" Many ships lost. There was no rail 

transportation in NY and New England for the entire month and longer. A month later there was 

record cold where Boston went down to -12 and Providence -1 1 degrees, (page 62) In 1861 

ftjrther freakish weather occurred. On February 6 the temperature was at 46 degrees at 1 PM and by 

7 AM the next morning it was at -14 ! a record drop of 60 degrees. There were high gale winds 

across the region. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 222 

assessment to pay for these tasks. Also a 

thank you was sent to Francis Pope ( Mrs. Henry Pope) for playing the 
"instrument" in church. ^^ The Fence issue still continues and cost was the 
primary issue. It was also voted to have the Parish Committee enquire if the 
Ladies of the church may have any funds they may "contemplate using" for 
painting the meetinghouse. It seems that in 1858 and 1859, the main focus of the 
administration of the church was finding enough funds to function. Pew Rents 
and assessments were the central method used. Rev. Brainerd's salary remained 
at $650 into 1859. In fact it was decided to "hire money" (borrow) to pay the 
pastor if the Treasury of the church doesn't have the funds. ^^^ Important to this 
meeting of April 9, 1859, is the question of "what does or does not constitute 
membership in this Parish". 

It seems this policy was not adequate and between March and April of 
1860, the financial issues became more challenging. Rev. Brainerd asked to 
confer with the church to see what can be done so a committee of three ( John 
Thompson, Cyrus Thompson, and Moses Tillson ) went to see him and report 
back. It is suggested in their April 21^* meeting to borrow money to pay what is 
owed. Knowing of this hardship. Rev. Brainerd responded with the following 


In consideration of the many presents which have been made me by this 
people I will deduct 25 percent from the debt now due me if the remainder can be 
paid me soon so as to relieve me from the pressure of debt on me. 

If the society will pay me $125 quarterly or $250 semi-annually and do this 
promptly give me use of one half of this place and my fire wood I will remain and 
perform as well as I have done by Divine Aid the duties of their pastor and 
Minister, <T, S, Brainerd> 

April 25, 1860, 

P,S, In this contract while it continues, I should consider myself entitled to four 

Sabbaths a year if I choose to take them, ^^^ 

The April ^^^ meeting was nearly nondescript in response. A subscription and 

tax on the pews was suggested, it was voted to make an assessment to raise the 

money and to see that Mr. Brainerd is furnished with the wood needed 

according to his contract. Another assessment was voted to raise $250 for 

repair and painting the meetinghouse.(Half paid 1 Dec, 1861, half paid 1 Dec, 

^^^ Meeting dated March 23, 1857, First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 255. 
^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , pages 264-268 
^^^ , First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 page 272 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 223 

1862)^^^ The best assessment report of 

how well the collections went came in a meeting of April 25, 1863, where $425 
was raised by subscription and an additional $300 was sought through polls on 
the estates of the members. This problem continued year to year until on 
January 6, 1866, the Church voted at accept the Resignation of Rev. Brainerd. 
In his time in Halifax, he was busy though. A number of people joined the 
church and there was good representation in the various Conference (Pilgrim 
Assoc) and National gatherings. ^^* The mutual Council was not called until 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 273-4 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , Page 288. ; Church Society Records, Book Two: 

1832-1891, page 79 

^^' Church Society Records, Book Two: 1 832-1 891, pages 69-79 

New members : 

June 18, 1857- Mrs. Abby Tilson, Aug 12, 1858- Leander Waterman, Mrs Lydia Pope: August 
15, 1858- Lois Drew Fuller; October 16, 1858- Mrs. Mary Francis Fuller, Mrs, Sarah Wright June 
25, 1859 - Cyrus Richmond; June 20, 1861- Sarah Fuller, Nathan Fuller, April 12, 1863- Harrison 
Packard; Sept, 1 864 - Harriet Brainerd and Martha Brainerd, May, 1 865 - Sophia Holmes, 


June 7, 1857- Jabez Paris ; Nov. 1, 1857- Elias Dewey; August 15, 1858- Thomas Holes 
Tilden, Lydia Holmes, Joseph Holmes; August 22, 1858- Abbey Parker, Mary Cynthia Wood ; 

July 3, 1859 - Levi Morse - letter to EastAVest Bridgewater ; February 16, 1862- Mrs. Marietta 
Goodwin - Letter to Springfield St. Ch. In Boston, 

Conference Gatherings : 
Year and Place Delegates chosen 

May 20, 1857 Carver Ebenezer Fuller & Nathan Fuller 

June 21-2 , 1858 Hanson John Thompson 

October 1 5 & 1 9, 1 858 - Hanover J. S. Waterman 

April 19-20, 1859 - Scituate Deacon Waterman 

May 13, 1858 Plympton Dr. Cyrus Morton & Deac. Jos. Waterman 

Oct, 1 860 Chiltonville Deacon Waterman 

April 1 6, 1 861 - East Marshfield Ebenezer Fuller 

April 15/16, 1862- Hanover Center Deacon E. Fuller 

October 22, 1 862 - Halifax Cyrus Morton, Samuel Fuller, John Thompson 

April 12, 1 863 - North Carver Isaac Holmes and Cyrus Richmond 

October 20/1 , 1 863- 3''* Ch in Plymouth Stajfford Sturtevant, John Thompson 
April 6, 1 864 - Hanson ? attended 

April 6, 1864 Chicago, 111 Pastor attending Convention of Cong. Ministers 

April , 1865 - Kingston Deac. D. Hohnes & Deac, E. Fuller(" 5z?gc/fl/ service of 

worship for President Lincoln "who had been suddenly removed by assassinatiori 'l 

October 1 865 - Plymouth, South Alfred Fuller and Nelson Fuller 

October 9, 1 866 - Scituate Ebenezer Fuller and Harrison Packard 

Ecclesiastical Councils : 
Date and Place Delegates Chosen Purpose of the council: 

March 24, 1857 Plympton P. Sturtevant & E. B. Thompson excommunication 

April 21, 1858 Quincy Evang. Ch Ephraim Tompson & Cyrus Tompson dissolve pastoral relat. 
April 13, 1859 North Middleboro Leander Waterman & T. L. Thompson Installing their pastor 

The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 224 

September 27, 1866, to consider the 

dismissal of Rev. Brainerd. This Council finally met on October 9*'' , 1866 in 
Halifax . Rev. Brainerd's reason for the termination was simply stated " the sole 
cause of his resignation on the part of the Society was a great delinquency in 
paying his salary." . The council determined , "... affirming that for reasons, 
some of which existed in the Parish previous to the settlement here of Rev. 
Brainerd, it had been impossible to get from him, as a voluntary subscription the 
amount pledged to him by the Society. ... , By a unanimous vote declared it 
expedient to dissolve the relation. . . . 

...are happy in learning from statements made be Rev. Mr, Brainerd and the 
Committee of the Church that a good degree of friendliness has ever existed 
between the Pastor and the people generally and the church is ready to have 
cheerful testimony to the ability, faithfulness and earnestness with which he has 
discharged his duties as Pastor during these eleven years, but the council regret to 
learn that in consequence of a lack of promptness in paying the stipulated salary 
from the first year of his settlement, Mr. Brainerd has at length been compelled to 
seek dissolution .... 

.... We are glad to hear that the Church and Society has called another Pastor who 
has accepted of their invitation, and we would express the earnest hope that he may 
never have the occasion to complain of any failure of the parish in meeting 
promptly their pecuniary engagements with him thus shortening and embarrassing 
his ministry among them "^^^ 

April 2, 1860 Middleboro-Central C. Nathan Fuller & Alfred Fuller - pastoral dissolution 
June 30, 1 861 East Bridgewater (Trinitarian) -Josiah Hathaway - dissolution of pastoral relat. 
February 16, 1862 Easton (Evangelical) - Josiah Hathaway -dissolution of pastoral relat. 
Nov, 30, 1862 - Plympton Alfred Fuller - Ordination and Installation request 

Nov, 1 863 - Chiltonville Deac. Darius Holmes - Ordination & Installation request 

^^^ Church Society Records , Book Two: 1832-1891, page 81-82 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church 












; ^. 



■feSK - 



4, V 






Ss/ i< 

Congregational Meetinghouse & "Town Hall" Trunk (Baptist) Meetinghouse 

Map from Here and Now , page 11 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 226 

B> The CIVIL WAR Years and Reconstruction Years. 1860's - 1870's. 

Each regiment (North and South) for the first time was to automatically 
include a certified chaplain, each having the grade of private. Also gearing up in 
the North was the revival, of Soldier's Aid Societies. The need for Bibles, tracts 
and literature was massive and portable lending libraries circulated the 
information using 5,000 volunteers.^^^ The Churches support of the Sanitary 
Commission (an advisory committee) to oversee the medical and hygienic care of 
the soldiers was massive with the value of benevolence in the North for all 
charities including this one totaling $212 Million. The contest concluded at 
Appomattox on April 9, 1865 but the field of battle was in shambles.^^'* The next 
task was one of reconstruction.^^^ Sadly the history of the times show the greed 
after the war. In the South the social structure continued in the people's hearts, 
while in the North the people regarded themselves as the moral custodians of the 
country. Basically the churches had deep sympathy for the slaves but yet little 
compassion for the ^^freedmen" who lived in the state. Back in the 1830's there 
was a remarkable shift in views on slavery, Emancipation for all slaves NOW not 
"Gradually". In 1831 the New England anti-Slavery Society was formed, and in 
1833 the American Anti-Slavery Society. When Harriet Beecher Stowe 
eventually published Uncle Tom^s Cabin in 1852 and was sure "God wrote this 


^^^ Ibid, page 122-125. Noted also is that regular services of worship and revivals were conducted in there 
field of war as death brought faith to the surface for many. Conversion during the war was estimated at 1 - 
200,000. The American Bible and Tract Society aided in both literature and ministry. Also in the pastoral 
address of the 1862 Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts the sentiment about the Civil 
War is shared in statements such as "In a day of darkness and rebuke, when the nation is struggling for her life 
against the murderous assaults of unnatural sons, and Sabbath desecration and immorality as a conseqience 
fearfully increase..." page 19. 

^^■^ 1 Million wounded, 600,000 dead including President Lincoln's April 17 assassination. The "rebellion" 
was officially closed on March 2, 1867. also Religious History of the American nation , by Sydney 
Ahlstrom, Volume II, page 126-7 There was also the Freedman's Relief Society and others . The 
Ladies Aid Societies between 1862-1865 contributed $ 212 Million. Sadly, the election of 
Rutherford Hayes in 1876 caused the Federal Military Support in the South to withdraw and the 
government to collapse therefore causing the rre-rise of the "Old South" as well as groups like the 
KKK to emerge strongly. The "Jim Crowe Laws" began to filter into the various legal areas of 
impact, (page 139 ff) especially in the 1860's - 1900. <see American Nightmare: The History of 
Jim Crow by Jerrold M. Packard (St. Martin Griffin, NY, 2002) , pages 34-79. 

A noble sentiment was shared by Mr. Wolf quoting Lincoln (after the war but obviously before his 
death)," With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the 
right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall 
have home the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a 
lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations. "(Lincoln)- A Religious History of the American People , 
Volume 2, page 137. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 227 

Book". ^^^ A Magazine in 1864 in the 

"North" said we must take the moral, the sacred, the holy right of our struggle up 
before the Throne of God. ...Clothed in the smoke of our battle, we have the 
right to plead and expect that God will let his angels encamp about our army..." 


The victory of anti-slavery forces in the North buoyed the feelings of both 
moral Victorianism as well as high nationalism. God had blessed America.^^^ 
Both North and South believed they were fighting "God's war" . ^^^Still, there 
were areas of deep concern. Darwin's treatise on the origin of humanity was 
widely debated between Biblical Creationists and Evolutionists. For the first time 
the Bible was directly questioned regarding the validity of its "historical" content. 
Temperance and foreign missionary activity replaced the tremendous input of the 
wartime collections. The Annual Reports of the Congregational Churches of 
Massachusetts contained yearly updates regarding Temperance, Gambling, 
Sunday Work laws, etc. These social causes continued the moral indignation of 
the people against all social evils. ^^Rising denominational "self-consciousness" 

^ Religious History of the American nation, by Sydney Ahlstrom. Volume II. page 91-102 , 
Massachusetts was the first state to outlaw slavery. The Civil war became enmeshed in the national 
self- consciousness ". . .because it exposed a fundamental moral commitment which the nation has 
never been able to discharge". . . ."It was a moral war because it sprang from a moral impasse on 
issues which Americans in the mid- 19^ C could no longer avail or escape." . . ."In the North it 
(nation's conscience) had been shaped into a crusade which could not accept either compromise nor 

^ Religious History of the American nation , by Sydney Ahlstrom, Volume II, page 118 quoting 
the Methodist Magazine in 1 864. 

^^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts . 1861 year in the "Pastoral 
Letter, page 16, it says "In the State there is a grand example of promptness, zeal, energy, self- 
sacrifice, faith, devotion, and heroism in the service of the country. The crisis brings out the true 
patriot, and makes him illustrious; it unmasks the traitor, and holds him up to the stare of the world. 
It is the day of fire that tries every man's work of what sort he is. In the church, similar activity and 
Christian heroism should be witnessed. You have enrolled yourselves under the great Captain of 
your salvation. . . ." . Stronger words of zealousness is found in the "Report on the State of the 
Country" on page 10. "The existing civil war in which the American people are unhappily involved 
. . . ., While we believe the war to be the work of wicked rebellion, we still recognize the hand of 

God in it, mflictmg just and deserved judgment on us all for our sins, social, civil and personal 

In view of the trying exigency in our affairs which has called for such a day, we fijrther recommend 

that our churches anticipate the approaching solemnity by special religious preparation..." 

^^ The Episcopal Bishop of Massachusetts in April, 1865, Phillip Brooks, said in a prayer, " We 

thank Thee, O God, for the power of thy right arm, which has broken for us a way, and set the 

banners of our Union in the central city of treason and rebellion. We thank Thee of the Trumpets 

of right over wrong... " In a Southern Presbyterian Church "we hesitate not to offer that it is the 

peculiar mission of the Southern Church to conserve the instillation of slavery, and to make it a 

blessing to both Master and slave. " Religious History of the American nation , by Sydney 

Ahlstrom, Volume II, page 117-118 

^^^ See for example Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts. 1858. 1862, -3, 

1865, 1889, 1896-7. 1899-1900 . (Copies in Church Archives). 1897, 1900 for articles on 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 228 

to take on these various causes of morality 

and mission began to gain acceptance in the church. The church (collective) was 
now a mission society .^^* Gearing up in particular were the ideas of Sunday 
Schools and Bible classes.^^^ There was also the creation and strengthening of 
service organizations such as the YMCA, and the Salvation Army (aiding the 
poor and needy in cities and towns). A final portion of the church life was the 
substantial gearing up of the professional revivalists, whose job it was to call a 
community together and to revitalize the need for religious faith, repentance and 
worship.^^^ The volumes of fine art, music, poetry and lectures that accented this 
period are tremendous and sometimes reproductions of prose and essay were 
circulated into churches and libraries.^^"* Magazines such as National Geographic 
and Harper's Weekly kept current situations, world news and culture in the 
conversations of the people. Local churches needed to be able to tune their 
ministries to incorporate these volumes of new information and be ready to 
respond to new members who were aware of the inventiveness of science, 
technology and philosophy. The gathering of the National Council in Boston in 
1865 topically tried to discuss aligning the local church into a concerted national 
body centered around evangelism and nationally planned mission support. From 
this gathering each minister was able to conduct a "Home Prayer Meeting" to re- 
assert Christian beliefs and to widen the church's local services and evangelism.^^^ 



^*^' A Religious History of the American People, Volume 2, page 197. Also Yearbooks of the Congregational 
Churches of Massachusetts, years 1858-1900. In the first 20 years since the 1850's the churches lobbied for a 
new set of laws and then monitored closely the effect of those laws in terms of convictions. In fact in the 1900 
version it is quoted "The theory that the effects of stimulants and narcotics must be taught in public schools, 
(page 123). 

^^^ Ibid, page 198-199. Sunday School was brought forth from Britain as an institution. The British Schools 
had proliferated since 1 824, really coming into its own in the 1 850's and early 1 860's. The Sunday School 
Union was re-invigorated after the War by Dwight L. Moody (Chicago) and by the year 1872 he had created 
the first uniform Sunday School Lesson Plan. By 1886 the Moody Bible Institute supplied teachers with 
information, technique and the challenge to teach. 

^^ Dwight L. Moody and Henry Moorehouse were two well known revivalists. 

^^'^ Two books containing example of this are Christ and the Fine Arts , by Cynthia Maus (Harper and 
Brothers, Pub, 1938), esp pages 670-705, and Art Through the Ages , by Helen Gardener, 3rd edition (Harcourt 
Brace and Co., 1 967), and Behold the Christ; a Portrayal in Words and Pictures , by Roland H. Sainton (Harper 
and Row, 1974) 

^^Of note the denominational boards (American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Home 
Mission Society, American Missionary Society) each of which had magazines sent to the churches regularly) A 
Religious History of the American People , Volume 2, page 245. 

^^ A good example of this would be the tremendous debate concerning the subject of creation. In 1836 
Benjamin Sillman (Yale Graduate Student), a geologist argued that the Bible was not a "scientific text" and the 
Hebrew word for "day" should be really interpreted as "aeon". In 1857 the theory of "natural Selection" was 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Halifax Civil 

Charles B. Lyon 
Isaac Poole 
John T, Thompson 
Stephen T. Lull 
Henry M. Porter 
Horace F. Packard 
William S. Bosworth 
Charles S Bosworth 
Isaac E. Raymond 
Horatio W. Cornish 
Edward Bishop 
Joseph T. Bourne 
Abel T. Bryant 
Oliver C. Porter 
Charles W. Soule 
James T. Fuller 
Joseph L. Melton 
John H. Wood 
I. Mendell Thompson 
George P. Mitchell 
Martin Osboume 
Morton Thompson 
Henry M. Holmes 
John T. Sturtevant 
George H, Bourne 
Lewis A. Hayward 
Simeon A. Bump 
Kinsley Hayward, Jr. 
Gibson Beal 

war Soldiers 

Nathaniel Morton 
Josiah E. Sears 
Sebediah Thompson 
Harrison D. Packard 
Lysander W. Hayward 
Charles T. Whitney 
George W. Hayward 
Seldon Pratt 
Oliver E. Bryant 
George Drew 3^^^ 
Zephaniah E. P. Britton 
James A. Lyon 
William A Lyon 
Eugene Mitchell 
Joseph S. W. Richmond 
William H. Fuller 
Lorenzo Tower 
Zadock Thompson, Jr. 
John Merrigan 
Cyrus Willis 
Cyrus Wood 
Asaph P. Thompson 
Elbridge B. Bormey 
William A. Perkins 
Phillip Gallager 
Merrit R. Godfrey 
Henry Sampson 
Henry Jones 
Jackson Davey 

Sylvanus Bourne 
Thomas P. Harlow 
Jacob P. Thompson 
William N. Bourne 
Martin L. Holmes 
William S. Daby 
Daniel P Blake 
William T. Marston 
Herbert P. Bosworth 
Nathaniel B. Bishop 
Lewis T. Wade 
Luther W. Hayward 
Francis E. Bryant 
Cyrus Thompson 
Edward A. Richmond 
Frederick Fuller 
Marston E. Morse 
Horace W. Poole 
Caphas Washburn 
Nathan D. Sturtevant 
Lewis A. Cobb 
Soranus Thompson 
Sylvanus Thomas 
Richard H. Fuller 
Ruel A. Alden 
Benjamin H. Thomas 
Zenas Shaw 
Heroulas Dean 
Perly Haven 

advanced, just before the 1 858 lectures of Charles Darwin, which drew greatest response after the conclusion of 
the Civil War. The debate between Darwinism and evangelical Creationism began at this point. Also, 
theologians questioned parts of the Biblical account in the 1860's and 1870's, particularly :l)Mosaic authorship 
and literary unity of the Pentateuch (First five Biblical Books), 2)The authorship of some of Apostle Paul's 
Letters, 3) Inerrancy of the Bible as the "Word of God". Topics of Biblical context, Hebrew History and other 
non-Christian religions were all surfacing. 

^^^ "On 14* of June, 1865, five hundred and two Elders and Messengers delegated by the 
Congregational Churches of five and twenty states, met at Old South meetinghouse in Boston, in 
Council to inguire as to the special duties which had been imposed on those congregational 
churches by the War of the Rebellion; with peculiar reference to the duty of Home Evangelization 
at the West and the South; setting forth of some simple declaration . . .and the responsibility of 
spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The Congregationalism of the last 300 Years by Henry 
Martyn Dexter (NY, Harper Brothers Pub, 1880) page 516-7 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 230 

Francis Morgan William Braden 

Henry Cooley 
Joseph Ankemins William Jager. 

From History of Halifax , pages 141-2. 

* It is an additional tribute that there seem to be no substitute nor "proxy" soldiers. It 
this conflict, an individual could receive a "bye" from the draft by hiring someone to 
fight in his place for $300. The "supporter or supporters and proxy would have both 
been listed.^^^ 

The Halifax Church Family's main concern during the Civil war era was 
frankly it's own financial troubles. Income from the sale of the Old 
Meetinghouse arrived in small amounts and was helpful but not significant. A 
registry of the payments is shown in the footnote. ^^^ The departure of the prior 
nine pastoral leaders had challenges with the payment from the church. Still it 
didn't give up! Even so the fastidious Ladies Benevolent Society worked to 
support the soldiers in the war down south. As the War started in April, 1861, 
the soldiers were in need of clothing so the church women did what they could. 
The town parroted this with a vote to fund the soldiers with new weapons. ^^^On 
May 1, 1861 Mrs. Morton was given $2.00 to purchase cotton yarn for socks for 
soldiers. ^** One particular benevolence that is very laudable is the support 
though the Ladies benevolent Society of the "Freedmen" (Freed Slaves) through 
the Sanitary Commission and the Soldier's Aid Societies. In 1863 they sent a 

^^^ This process of proxy was reviewed by historian William Marcal at the press release of his new 
book " Mr. Lincoln goes to War (2007) portrayed/ recorded by C-Span on April 5, 2007, at the 
Virginia Historical Society, Williamsburg, VA. And shown April 7, 2007. 
^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853-1875, pages not numbered: 

March 1, 1857 (Selectman's Report) Due: First Religious Soc Note and Interest - $624.19 
March 1 2, 1 860 (Selectman' s Rpt) Paid Ebemezer Fuller interest on parish Note - $ 1 8.00 

Due - First Religious Society - $3 1 0.50 

March 1, 1 861 ( " " ) Paid Ebenezer Fuller Interest on parish note - ??? 

Paying Society Note - $314.55. (paid off full)" 

^'^ . Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1 853-1 875, not paged; April 29, 1 861 , 'To see if the 
town will fund each member of the Halifax Light Infantry who belong to the town.... with Colts 
Revolvers.. .". In the same meeting, the town pledged monetary support to each soldier in the army 
and that "the money be set aside for them or their heirs ". In the event of their decease. " 
The meeting of the town on June 30^*^, 1861, shows a decided outlay of $100 to the soldiers until 
the quota of the town is filled under the present call... (and have passed a medical inspection 
<performed by Dr. Morton locally> ... and have been invited into service. " 
The town records contain the specific list (copy in the church archives) of soldiers. List 1 = those 
who enlisted = 83. List 2 = Those who made up the militia = 22. 

^" Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862), In January, 1862, 
the Women's Group emptied their Treasury to buy woolen yam for the soldiers totaling $2.47. This 
type of support continued throughout the war. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 23 1 

whole large barrel of items to aid the 

soldiers. The List of items was quite extensive. ^*^ The response letter arrived in 
February, 1864. 

" United States Sanitary Commission 

N.E. Women's Auxiliary Association 

22 Summer Street 

Boston. February 13, 1864. 

Mrs, A, P. Soule, 
Dear Madam, 

I have great pleasure in acknowledging the arrival of five packages 
from Halifax containing articles of great value to us, I can hardly specify which is 
most needed as all have stood for some time on our list of necessities. 

Perhaps Domestic Wine, is the one thing we find it most difficult to 
procure in the city and for which we must look to the good housewives of the 

Dressing gowns are much called for and are not as freely supplied as 
most other garments. We are much pleased to find them on your invoices. 

Another article for which we have had a large requirement is Body 
bandages. They should be offiannel one and a quarter yard in length and half of 
the width of the flannel. 

We desire to offer special thanks to our young contributor, who sends 
us always the most acceptable thing. Anything acid is very valuable to the soldiers 
whether as a preventative or an aid to recovery. 

It is delightful to find any one so pursuing and I am very sure and he 
has found great pleasure in his work. We have to day a letter from tow little girls 
who made a nice patchwork quilt and sold it to raise funds for a contribution to the 

We shall be very glad to hear again from our little friend. Perhaps he 
might beg for us. We are continually asked for books, not religious, with which we 
are generally not supplied, but of general literature, such as biographies, travels, 
etc. Single volumes of moderate size. Probably every family has a least one such 
book which could be well spent for this purpose. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Benevolent Society Record-book , Book two (1855-1862) 

Halifax included: 

40 Bed quilts 38 Pillows 20 Dressing Gowns 27 shirts 

17 pair Pillow Cases 150 Handkerchiefs 29 Half Handkerchiefs 8 Blankets 

40 Pair Slippers 1 5 Pr. Cotton Drawers 3 pr Flannel Drawers 146 Towels 

1 Thin Coats 42 rolls- Bandages 3 1 Cotton Shirts 4 Flannel Shirts 

1 Cotton-Flannel Shirt 31 Rolls- Cotton Lmen 31/2 Bu. Dried Apples 

10 papers - Com Starch 3 Cakes - soap 26 pair- socks 

Numerous Magazines 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 232 

We have recently received 
Reports from Morris Island and from the Department of the Gulf showing that 
great good has been accomplished in both Departments by the Sanitary 

Very truly yoursy MS, Black, Exec, Com. " ^^^ 

The patriotism of Halifax granted it another "first" as on April 9, 1866, it 
was proposed to build a monument for those who died in service of the country. 
$500 was pledged by the town. ^''^On June 14**', 1866, a vote was taken to see if 
Rev. William A. Forbes would settle in Halifax as the pastor of the church. 

This was reiterated in a June 19*'' vote to call Rev. Forbes at a salary of 
$800. ^^^ He and his wife Lucena A. Forbes joined the Halifax Church on 
December 29, 1866 by letter of transfer from The Center Church of Lebanon, 
Maine. ^*^ He was examined and Installed on October 31, 1866 in Halifax . 
Churches from Bridgewater, Hanson, Kingston, Marshfield, Middleboro, 
Plympton, Plymouth and Providence, RI were in attendance. ^*^ It was good he 
was from Maine as SE New England embarked on a very snowy winter 
(following a bad January, 1867) from December 1867 to April, 1868. ^*^ It was 
after such a severe winter as this that the town decided to "take the deed of the 
Burying ground (East) and fence it. ^^^ Also in 1868, there was the first vote with 

^'^ Copy of the original in the Church Archives. At this point the records of the Women's Group 

breaks off with one exception, a reorganizing meeting in 1869 calling the group the Halifax 

Benevolent Society which organized March 16, 1869 with the mission statement "/o serve to our 

purpose added social advantages and promote such benevolent religious objects and enterprises as 

may properly fall within the scope of our efforts. " This is the only record of this group existing 

and it is likely the enterprise faltered for a few years quietly. 

^'"^ . Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853-1875, not paged; April 9, 1866. The climate of 

the townspeople were also changing . On April 25, 1 867 and March 9, 1868, motions were made to 

choose a committee to see of fishing and gaming (hunting) would be allowed on the Sabbath. This 

was rejected on both occasions. 

^'^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 84. "Rev. Forbes having preached two 

Sabbaths in this place A meeting was called. . .voted unanimously to give Rev. W. A. Forbes a call 

to settle over this church. . ." A council was to be called to Install him d& Pastor. It was also found in 

the First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 289, 291. Also is noted a thank you to 

"Lucy Morton and the Choir for the efficient manner in which they have sustained the singing in the 

church". Also is the selection of a PORTER to seat people in the meetinghouse, thusly the 

beginnings of the church Usher position in Halifax. 

^'^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 83 

^'^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 87 

^'^ American Winters: 1821-1870 by David Ludlum, 1 867- January 1 7; snow and high wind, 20" 

snow. No RR traffic from Boston to cape for 1 week. Two locomotives rescued a train on the Old 

Colony Line . In 1867/8, The snow storms were nearly confinuous totaling 83 Va inches. Kingston, 

MA reported 94 inches of snow !! (Pages 74, 75-9, 78) 

^'^ . Halifax Town Records . Book Four: 1853-1875, not paged; April 13, 1868, "Voted the town 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 233 

respect to the sale of liquor. ^^^ The town 

was also given land behind the church for a new burying ground. This was so as 
long as ther was space for those who were poor. ^^*In his pastorate four were 
admitted as members into the church. < Sally Crooker, Mary Whitney 
(11/2/1867), John Thompson, Ellis Cornish, Sally Cornish (3/1/1868) , E. Austin 
Pratt, Charlotte A. Pratt (7/5/1868) Morton Thompson, Catherine Thompson, 
Kitty Holmes (9/6/1868) , Cordilla Richmond, Georgianna Drew, Bethia H. 
Morton ( 5/16/1869) Jabez Soule (11/7/1869), Lydia Pope, Carrie Parker, Mary 
Tillson (1871)^^^ It was during this pastor's tenure that an historic vote was 
taken, ''Voted that Females be requested to vote on all church affairs'*\^^^ The 
Resignation of Rev. Forbes was submitted at the Church meeting on April 8, 
1873. In fact at the April 29*'' ''mutual council", the report details a feeling of 
mutual goodwill exists between the pastor and church. His stated reason for his 
resignation was ill health.^^"* It was accepted on April 12*** and without fanfare 
in the ''Religious Society" , also simultaneously voted to establish a committee of 
three to "supply the pulpit" for the year to follow. ^^^ It was agreed "not to 
settle a Minister at present" and to employ supply and temporary pastors for the 
time being. ^^^ 

pay 1/3 of the cost of the fencing. . . not to exceed $200, and to fence "on the road and east End". 
^^ . Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853-1875, not paged; Unanimous vote on May 18, 
1868, the "town not have an open bar for the sale of distilled or fermented liquors, it being an 
unanimous vote. " The next year was also the first mention of the installation of a hay scale in 
town, nut it was rejected at this point (April 11, 1870). Of note this was again taken up on March 
22, 1 880 and $200 was appropriated to buy a town hay scale (location to be made by tJie 
selectmen), Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875- 1908, page 122-123. 
^^^ . Halifax Town Records , Book Four: 1853-1875, not paged; September 6, 1870 , "see what 
action the town will take in reference to a new cemetery. " 

Voted- 1> to give to the town a lot of land in the rear of the church, provided that ample space be 
allowed for the graves of the poor. 2> said lot to be surveyed at the expense of the conveyor paid 
by the town and proprietors. 3> A road to be left between the town house and the meeting house 

March 20, 1871- Voted- that the front and east end of the New Cemetery be fenced, with stone 
posts and iron rails and the other two sides with .arbor vita (e.g. Trees). 
April 1 7, 1873 - Voted- a board fence be built on the two ends and rear of the cemetery lot.... 
Cedar posts and painted... " 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, pages 88-90. The latter part of the list is 
uncertain as a note clarifies "It is perhaps well to add at this place that a short period has passed 
without a very good record of events - the Clerk having removed fi"om town and ??? no 
siroplications fi-om time to time. " 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 90 
^^"^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 96-7 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , pages 298-9, also Church Society Records, Book 
Two, 1832-1891, page 96 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 90 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 234 

The search committee worked 
judiciously in the months ahead and on August 12^** had two candidates to 
choose from for this supply. In September, 1873, the church at a "Parish 
Meeting" voted to hire Rev. George Wright for one year. The church was told 
they didn't want either of the choices and "for the committee to procure some 
other candidates on trial.". Shortly after (October 1, 1873, Meeting ) the church 
met and " The following Candidate Rev. Geo. Wright having agreed to preach 
in Halifax one year for $750, providing his board should not exceed one dollar a 
day" was unanimously accepted as their 

preacher "for one year". ^^^ In April, 1874, it was voted to pay "Reynolds and 
Thompson $73.77" for the organ. IN this the old "seraphene" was replaced 
with an organ. In April, 1874, at their meeting on the 12***, it was decided to 
offer Rev. Wright an opportunity to become a settled pastor in Halifax. In 
August, it was decided "not to ask Rev. Wright to continue and for the Parish 
Committee to ask other candidates to preach in Halifax. The vote was close, 
however. (13+, 12-). ^^^ In this same meeting two other practical matters were 
considered: a vote to paint the church and a vote to install lightning rods. ^^^ 

Earlier that year, there was an organizational meeting of the Ladies 
Sewing Circle of Halifax at the Town Hall . The dormant Ladies Groups has 
stirred again and was gearing up. As the church was in financial difficulty, it 
will be seen that this group would go far to assist the church in many ways over 
the next 25 years. ^^^ Just six months later on October 28, the Ladies ^'voted to 
let the church have $200 towards painting the church. The parish voted to pay the 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , pages 299-300 

^^* Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 98 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 303-4 

"*^ Ladies Sewing Circle of Halifax, Record Book, (1 879- 1881) , February 26, 1874. 



JANTARYl. 18-2 


Daruis Holmes 
John T. TboApsoa ^ 
Caleb Ptale 
C\TTis Morton 
Alfred FaUer 
H. D. Packard 
E. Frank FiiUer 
E. Aastin Praa 
Mero H. Pratt 
Lydia H. Mortoo 
Joanna Lyon Fearing 
Lydia Holmes 
Sarah B, Bain 
Sarah Fnlkr 
Mary F. Fmlkr 
Levesta A. Frifer 
Saih Cormisk 
Mrs. Lewis 

Jabez So«le 


Ebe«ezer Frifer 
Natku FaHer. Jr. 
Eisci B. Vaa^M 
Elberto E, FmOcr 
Experiesce \^ 
Tiky Wood 
Jcrvska B. Holses 

Lydia H. S>i% 
Ckjurfocte A. Pran 


IreaeS. ScsrinraMt 
Harriett J. 

Additions in IS --3 (Baptized if andertmed • 

Abbie Holmes — Manrh, I ^'2 Mav R Cnmrniii^ — Marr^ IS^ 

James Thoma5 — >U> 5, l!!^^ Edai—d CWi i fca J*«. 5, 1^7 

Elmer Gnx>ver ^an. 5, 1S"3 Gary Ci 

Miss Julia A. Holmes - April 2", 18^ 

— Mairk 2, 1^7 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


^ 4< 

1874 was also the year of t he Sturtevant murder that happened at the 
home of Thomas and Simeon 
Sturtevant (Photo) and their 
parrot "Captain Kidd" who 
was the hero of the tragedy. 
^^*The church remained 
without pastoral leadership for 
the next year and in May, 1875, 
an offer was given to Rev. 

Smith of Mattapoisett to settle :*^"T^-;^j-ipafc.iW5r^3^ ^^i ..X -- JUPii m 
Halifax for a year at a salary of 
$800 per year plus house rent. (Housing allowance or use of a rented house) . As 
there is no further correspondence, it is reasonable to assume the response is 
negative to the church's offer. In this same meeting Ira Sturtevant voted the 
expense of the Lightening Rods and other repairs be paid by a tax on the pews of 
the church. ^^^ In a community service vein, in the later half of the 1800's the 
church bell was the town's "fire bell". ^^^ It seems the administration areas of 
the church had become quite lax. A note in the church records is as follows 
"Winter following the services of Mr. Wright the church met ~ but seldom" 
In the records it states somewhat candidly " Memoranda^ Since the dismissal of 
Rev, Wm A. Forbes No regular ordained Minister has been employed by the Society 
and Church as acting pastor. Several have supplied for a few Sabbaths each, and 
nearly a year the pulpit being supplied by a licensed but not ordained minister ~ 
HENCE the church has but seldom experienced the blessing of the sacrament and 
taken little active duty upon its shoulders the Society hiring as it saw fit ~ and 
acting mostly by itself " ^^^ Paralleling this it seems that the town had lost 
significant numbers of people. Records indicate over the prior 25 years a 


^^' Short Stories by Harry H. Brown <Unpublished Manuscript- imdated>. Holmes Library. To 

quote Mr. Brown " Thomas and Simeon Sturtevant lived in a farmhouse with houselceeper Mary 

Buckley and a parrot named "Captain Kidd". . . .Mary's body was found in the snow in the yard by 

neighbor Stephen Lull, who found the bludgeoned body of Simeon in his bed and Thomas in the 

shed. Footprints, old Coins and Civil war paper became the trail until the nephew William 

Sturtevant at South Hanson was identified, and the parrot's voice reiterated the events and 

Sturtevant confessed and was executed in Plymouth in May, 1875." Photo from Here and Now , 

page 59. 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1 824-1 883 , Page 307 

^^^ Before the fire company was formed in 1905, the bell of the church was rung "vigorously" in 

the event of a fire. Farmers would run from the fields .. and drive furiously to the church to find out 

where the firs was and then gallop off to give assistance." Short Stories by Harry H. Brown 

<Unpublished Manuscript- undated>. Holmes Library. 

""^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 99 

"^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 100 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 237 

general decline in population from 786 in 

1855 to 568 in 1875. ^^^ It may be that part of this initial drop was the 
annexation of some of the town of Halifax to be incorporated into East 
Bridgewater in April 11, 1857. The 1867 Annual Report of the Congregational 
Churches of Massachusetts sheds some light (in it's Plymouth County Section, 
and "Pilgrim Conference" section, page 49 

"y4 somewhat careful estimate of actual attendance upon public worship, last 
year, led to the same conclusion, that one third of our population may be regarded 
as neglecters of the sanctuary. ,,, Our population is small for our territory. On the 
south lies a region as little changed as any perhaps in Massachusetts, within 200 
years; while the central part of our territory is, to considerable extent, a 
wilderness, or thinly inhabited. 

Emigration seriously affects us. The South Shore is constantly drained of its 
population, in this respect somewhat resembling the mountain towns. Seven of our 
twelve towns are untraversed by a railroad. The tendency of emigration is to take 
away the church-going portion of the people, and supercede it with an irreligious 
class, " ^^^ In the 1871 report it is added ''The towns within the borders of this 
conference have poor soil and most of them suffer from emigration. Many years 
ago, the churches were reduced in pecuniary strength by the Unitarian separation, 
and most are financially feeble. Naturally there has often been a lack of enterprise 
and hope; ministerial salaries have not increased as elsewhere; churches have 
been without settled pastors;.... This was a time of uplifting on the cooperative 
area as at the 1871 Convention, was formed the "National Council of the 
Congregational Churches of the United States." (11/13/1871 in Oberlin Ohio). 
Two overriding and fundamental laws were incorporated: 1 That the right of 
government resides in the local churches or congregations of believers.... And 2. 
of being in communion with one another.." ^^^ Although in 1873 there was 
reported a "revival" in Halifax at the church. ^^^ 

^^^ Vital Records of Halifax, "Population" : Specifically - 1 860 = 766, 1 865 = 722, 1 870 = 6 1 9, 

1875 = 568. 

^^^ Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts . 1 867 year, page 49. 

^^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts . 1871 year, page 35 "Pilgrim 


^^^ The Congregationalism of the last 300 years by Henry Martyn Dexter (NY, Harper Brothers 

Pub, 1880), page 517-8. 

^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts. 1873 . page 48. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 238 


The Final 25 Years of the Nineteenth Century: 

Our country's Centennial and "The Church 

in the Heart of Halifax''. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 239 

The search for a new pastor 
continued as the church used 
student or post-graduate 
supplies. ^^^One normal source 
for supply pastors was the 
seminaries and Andover 
Theological Seminary was one 
such place. In the late spring 
and early summer a new 
graduate came to supply the 
pulpit in Halifax named Frank 
Louis Bristol. The committee 
and people liked him after 
hearing him a few times and so 
on August 9, 1875, an offer was 
made to him to settle in 
Halifax. The offered contract 
was for $800 for the year but 
he was to pay his own house 
rent and he will have four 
Sabbaths '^to himself during 
that time" . ^"^^ By this point 
Rev. Bristol was in agreement 
and began his year-long tenure 
in Halifax. The photo is likely 
from a few years after he was 

in Halifax. ^"^^ On October 21, 1875, a council was convened in Halifax to 
examine and potentially ordain Mr. Bristol as pastor. Churches from Brockton 
, Bridgewater (Central), Plympton, Middleboro (First), Bridgewater (Scotland), 
and Kingston were in attendance and participating. . This examination and 
documentation was proven satisfactory and he was ordained. ^^ The church 
must have enjoyed his ministry as they selected to have him return for another 

i '>^-^-^^^....: /O^ 

^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts, "Pilgrim Conference", 1875 

Yearbook, notes "The Church in Halifax, we are pained to learn, has been "without preaching or 

any Sabbath service for upwards of a year." This is not merely sad, it is wrong. It ought to be a 

moral impossibility for a Congregational parish to suffer such a deprivation of the gospel." , page 


^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883 , page 308-9 also Church Society Records, Book 

Two, 1832- 1891, page 100 

Photograph in the Archives of the Congregational Library of Boston, clarified digitally by Mr. 
Kevin Sullivan of Halifax. With thanks from the author. 

Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 101-2 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 
^^^ In March, 1876, the church 


looked at it's Polity and revised some of it, creating a new Articles of Faith, 
Covenant and membership format. In synopsis, the service of communion was 
less "scripted" as it had been and was now more at the discretion of the pastor 
serving. This was reviewed and accepted at a meeting on September 1^*, 1876. 

y.J ,^^£^ .M^:&^Cf^j^^^'^'^''^^^ 


^ ^6.^^^ ^^.^..5^^ 


Of note is the polity admonition that members (within a reasonable distance to 
the church) must attend and if they miss more than 4 times, in particular 
Communion Sundays (quarterly in 1876), their membership may be 
reconsidered. Also stated directly "No member of this church shall sell, buy or 

Original manuscript warrant, loose sheet, detailing the proposed vote for asking Rev. Brainerd to 
remain another year (meeting date August 14, 1876). 

The History of the Halifax Congregationsil Church - 241 

use as a beverage any intoxicating 

liquors". ^"^^ Also in 1876, was the formation of the Holmes Public Library as a 
gift from Doctor Rowland Holmes of Lexington, in whose By-Laws and 
constitution was the expectation of the "settled pastor" being one of the trustees 
of the library. ^^^ It is likely this was the full compliment of scholars in the 
town and they would form the nucleus of literary choices, financial management 
and operational overseeage for the new library on behalf of the townspeople. 

The ongoing Temperence movement would apply yearly as the Town 
would vote annually whether or not to allow sales of various types of alcoholic 

This shows the continued strength of the church in the ongoing 
temperance movement. This belief was solidly founded in the formation of 
Halifax ENTERPRISE Lodge of Good 

, i* r/ f . i/ff j/ia // fit^i^e^ Any 0r Seii^ 


^^ Church Society Records , Book Two, 1832-1891, page 1 1 1 

^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875- 1908, page 35-36, November 7, 1876 

" Voted to accept the proposition ofDoct. Rowland Holmes of Lexington in regard to a 
Library in Halifax as follows: 

-The Library shall forever be public, permanent and free to all the citizens of the town and 
known as the 'Holmes Library '. 

The Trustees shall be the Selectmen..., School Committee..., settled clergyman...., and any 
residing physician of the town... ". 
Voted- to appropriate $100 ... 

Voted that the thanks of the citizens of Halifax in town meeting assembled be given to Dr. Howland 
Holmes of Lexington for his generous gift... " 

Howland Holmes was the eldest brother of John Holmes a resident of Halifax and a member of the 
First Religious Society for over 40 years by this time. He was a tin peddler, hi fact there were a 
number of Holmes folk within the membership of the church family, although he is not noted in the 
previous 1872 registry of membership. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 242 

Templars on February 21, 1876. The 

Pledge of this organization clearly admonished its membership to avoid the use, 
sale and to not produce alcohol. This organization was not an official branch of 
the church itself but a number of its members were certainly church members. 
Records at the founding denote it's high leadership officers to be James 
Thompson (Worthy Chief Templar), Alice Soule, Charles Paine, Edmund 
Churchill, Elmer 


n r ) 

Grover, Keith A. 

Cushing, Jabez 

Thompson and Keith B 

Cushing", to name a 

few. The organization 

continued to collect 

dues, have meetings 

and do work in the 

community until it 

folded on September 3, 

1899. It met on 

Monday Evenings once 

in a month. The dues 

were 25 cents, and the initiation was 50 cents. 

Wood who was a member of the church in the 

/>//'//• J ^ ^'^t/yi' y./. ./ ft tee/ Te/^/>/'t^ 



' /it- 



^^. , 


/. /-( 

4^ ^ « 

t '. ^^s 

L ^0 1 


.S!5- 1 


^'' B 


'^'^'^ 1 


,^^> ■ 1 


/ '," M 

/ f*? 

/ 6 '?1| 




_j..- /r/,j/ 




Of note is the record of Mary 
Included illustration. 

Unfortunately in a subsequent motion the salary of the pastor was lowered 
to $700 for the year. Again the difficulty seems to be the monetary support 
being raised was not adequate for the promised support. In the week to follow. 
Rev. Bristol's response was received: 

*^Brethren and Friends of the Congl Parish Halifax. 
According to your instructions your committee delivered to me your invitation to 
minister to you for the ensuing year for the sum of even Hundred Dollars ($700) on 
which after careful and prayerful consideration I have come to the following 
conclusion. Namely y That I cannot agree to bind myself to remain a year or any 
given time at the rate of seven hundred dollars per annum but I will agree to stay 
with you at that rate until such a time as a better opportunity shall present itself to 
you. Leaving this to your consideration and looking for an early reply, I remain, 
truly yours, < signed F, L. Bristol> "^"^^ 

In November Rev Bristol had left and the church approached Mr. H. 
Prescott to supply the pulpit for the next year but he refused the offer. The 

Overview taken from the Recordbook of the Enterprise Lodge of Good Templars, Halifax, 
Massachusetts, No 142. original manuscript in the Halifax Museum, Susan Basille, Historian. Of 
particular interest is the Meeting Record Book covering 1876-1899, and the Financial Record book. 
Mary Wood's record is found on Page 33. 
^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 313 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 243 

search continued into 1877 and at the 

June 4, 1877 meeting it was decided to give Rev. George Juchan a call to supply 
the pulpit. It was still unsettled and revisited at the September 2, 1877 meeting 
of the church. ^^^ Rev. Juchan was installed in September, 1877. ^^* Shortly after 
the installation was concluded, the churches and delegates returned for the Fall 
Meeting of the Pilgrim Conference on October 16 and 17*'' held in Halifax. ^^^ It 
seems Rev. Juchan stuck to his guns on the salary issue and then in the April 5, 
1878 meeting, "a committee of three be chosen to confer with their minister and 
notify him of the Financial condition of the society and ascertain if he will preach 
for any less sum than $800 for the next year, *' (Chosen as a committee were Ira 
Sturtevant, John Thompson, and Ephraim Thompson. In addition another 
committee of three were chosen to approach the Home Mission Society for help . 
^^^ Meanwhile, the last and latest church '^disciplinary action" against a 
member (Mary Crooker) was taken on in a special meeting of the church on 
May 28*''. The charges are not specified in the church records, but it was noted 
that they are justified satisfactorily and so she was suspended three months and 
then restored after repentance. ^^ In August, 1878, the potential financial 
obligation would have proven too much for the church and so it seems with some 
regret the following motion of dissolution was offered : 

''By motion of Nathaniel Morton it was voted whereas the society find it 
impossible to raise the sum of $800 for their minister's salary and whereas the 
Society is involved in debt and being desirous of obeying the Scriptural injunction 
**owe no one any thing'' Resolved that this society dissolve its connections with 
Rev, Geo, Juchan and that a committee of three be chosen to notify him of the 
action forthwith, ^^ ^^^ About nine months later, at the March 13, 1879 meeting, 
the church had enough in hand to pay the remainder of Rev. Jucan's (owed) 
salary and that of a supply names Mr. Wood. In fact it was subsequently voted 
in that same meeting to hire a minister when they have a hundred dollars in the 
Treasury but not before. The church must pay off their debts first. ^^ 

It gives great credit to the church that if the above policy was followed, for 
in December of 1879, Rev. James Wells was approached to come to Halifax for 
the meager salary of $500 for the coming year. Rev. Wells decided to come to 
Halifax. On April 1, 1880, Rev James Wells and wife joined the Halifax Church 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, pages 320-322, also Church Society Records, Book 

Two, 1832-1891, page 112 

^^^ Church Record, Loose paper original manuscript page concerning the Church meeting of August 

and to direct the participants to September to act on the voted action. 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 1 12 

^" First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 324-5 

^^"^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 113 

^^^ First ReHgious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 327 

^^^ First Religious Society Records , 1824-1883, page 330 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 244 

by letter from Dunbarton. NH. ^^^ It is 

possible some hope came as a result of the will of Lois Fuller who bequeathed 
money to the church. ^^^ Further assistance was found in the generosity of S. H. 
Williams, enough so to generate the following entry in thanksgiving from the 
March, 24, 1881 meeting of the church; 

''Whereas the Society has been recipient of most generous donations of money 
from S. H, Williams in aid of religious worship: therefore - Resolved that the 
members of the First Religious Society in their annual meeting tender to him their 
grateful thanks for his benefactions and high Christian spirit recognizing that the 
appreciation of men is pleasant but that the highest reward is from him who **seeth 
not as man seeth^^ .^^^ ( following 1879 Map is from Here and Now , page 12). 

^" Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 1 16 Sadly the records of this period are 

very meager and spotty in content. 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 333-4 

^^^ First ReHgious Society Records , 1824-1883, page 336 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 





The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 246 

In tribute to the Ladies Societies between 1875 and 1890, several 
important and critical tasks were accomplished through their assistance. In 
August, 1875, the Ladies Circle decided to have a "carpet Party" and $22.70 was 
raised. ^^ Indeed the women of the church added a bit of social interaction into 
their service. Since 1876 was to be the Centennial of the Nation it was suggested 
to have a "Centennial" party in April, 1876 but the attendance was lower than 
expected. They still raised $155 and netted $117.77 for the church.^^* With this 
money the women's group began to assist the church in several ways. In 
November they voted to pay $60 towards the support of the preaching for four 
months hence and to pay the $16 (arrears?) for the past six months. 

In 1877 it seems the Ladies Sewing Circle, now meeting in the Vestry, had 
re-integrated into the church's fabric as a powerful force. In 1877 they again 
supported the preaching with a $50 stipend for the year. They also added $60 
for the expenses of the "pulpit" the prior winter. ^^^ This support continued in 
1878 with support towards the painting of the church central in their 
fundraising efforts. That year they also paid Rev. Packard $50 as a stipend. ^^^ 
The Sewing Circle's activities also included social and literary work as they did 
their work. IN April, 1881, the ladies were entertained by a member of the 
Temperance Union from Boston. ^^ It seems the main thrust of the sewing 
production was for needy children in the vicinity. For example "In May 9, 1881, 
..."several dresses for Mrs. Waterman's Children". In June a quilt was created 
to give to someone in need. Still they never forgot the needs of the church, for in 
June, 1882, they decided to repair the street lamp outside the church. In that 
year they had centered their missionary work suffering in Michigan. A clothing 
drive was organized with posters posted around town (Church, Library asking 
for donations in clothing and "bedding and money" for their needs.) One 
method used was the Strawberry Festival that was very successful. ^^^ In July of 
1882 the "cushions" in the church were covered. In 1889, New Carpets were 
installed and there was additional painting inside the sanctuary and the steeple. 


^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Three (1974- 1881) August 4, 1875, ''The Carpet party 

was held on Thursday Afternoon with as much success as could be expected. Quite a large company 

attended all persons appeared most pleased. " 

^^' Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Three (1974- 1881) , February 25, 1876 and April 5, 


^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Three (1974- 1881) January 21, May 9 and June 7, 


^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Three (1974-1881) May 22, 1878. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Three (1974- 1881) April 14, \U\. ''Voted- to give Mrs. 

Irene Sturtevant two dollars as consideration of her having entertained the ladies from the 

temperance Union. " 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1 881 -1889) , October 12, 1881. (Expense = 50 

cents) The Strawberry festival 's menu included "Ice Cream and Cake and Strawberries for 10 

cents, with Brass band, singing and "reading selections by the young ladies". 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 247 

In the February meeting of the 
Church it was voted to continue with the services of Rev. Wells for $500 for the 
next year but to leave the cost of rent as a matter for the Parish Committee. ^^^ 
In the next year (February 23, 1883) it was reported that the treasury was in 
debt for $44.88. Indeed this was a certain signal that Rev. Wells' services could 
no longer be afforded. ^^^ His resignation is not recorded but in the meeting of 
June 21, Rev. Wells and wife were dismissed and recommended to the church in 
Douglass, Mass where he had left to pastor there. ^* The church must have 
loved this pastor as the soliloquy in the Annual Report of the Ladies Sewing 
Circle shares: 

*7« the providence of God we have been called to give up our Good Pastor 
within a few weeks-- we will miss him very much. We miss his ministrations in the 
pulpit and the Prayer Meeting. We will also miss his pastoral visits from house to 
house. Some of us miss his prayers at the bedside of the sick and dying. No one 
more precious than he in his friendly calls, old and young alike shared in his 
cheerful companionship. His class in Sabbath School were found with an 
enlightened teacher and we cannot but feel that a Good man 's Influence has gone 

r n 669 

from US..." 

In July, the Ladies Circle voted to "employ Mr. Parker to go to 
Boston and procure cloth, with the request that it not exceed $80. He agreed to 
do the business if we would pay his car fare (Electric car out of Whitman). 1882 
was also a central time for the women of the community as this was the first time 
an official motion was brought before the town to grant both women and men 
equality in voting on town business and affairs. Although it failed, it was the 
first volley of a long battle of women's suffrage. ^^^ During the Summer of 1883 
the new cushions were sewn. ^^^ Of central note only a week or so later there 
was a meeting of the Ladies Circle on August 22, 1883, in which the ladies group 
were entertained by a Mrs. Steele, a Missionary to the Freedmen in the south. 
The Halifax group decided to send a "barrel" to them. ^^^ 

The church continued along, participating where it could. Delegates Mr. 
and Mrs. Packard, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Fuller, Morton Tompson, Leonard 
Holmes went to the Fall meeting of the Plymouth Conference held in East 

^^^ First ReHgious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 338 

^^^ First ReHgious Society Records, 182401883, page 340 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 117 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881-1889) <Aimual Report> May, 1883. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875- 1908, page 154 , Agenda: "to see whether the town 

will by its vote or otherwise ask the legislature to extend to women who are citizens the right to hold 

town offices, and to vote in town affairs in the same terms as male citizens (by request) " . 

Pg 160= " Voted - NOT to ask the legislature. " 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881 - 1889) August 5, 1883 . "Cloth was sewn 

and then <for the fu-st time> using a machine, they were sewn over a two day period." 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881 - 1889) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 248 

Marshfield on the 16-17 of October, 1883. 

They helped make the entertainment for the Conference. ^^^ It is noted that in 
December 1883 a B. Franklin Boiler was to begin in December for a salary of 
$600 to start on December 1. It is noted that this never came to fruition and no 
reason is noted as to the cause. 

In February 1885, the church decided to employ Rev. L. D. Younkin to 
supply the pulpit and the church continues to struggle with the support of the 
ministry. On April 27, 1884, Rev. Younkin was admitted into the church a a 
member by letter of transfer from the Bromfield Church of Boston. ^^^ The Fall 
Meeting of the Pilgrim Conference of Churches was held in Halifax on October 
28 and 29***. This was the occasion of the celebration of our ISO*'' 
Anniversary! !^^^ Of interest here is the fuel used in the various stoves is now 
coal as well as "slabs" or dross wood from the Sturtevant mill. ^^^ Also of note is 
the "income" side of the church financial picture. Of the $509.57 received , 
assessments paid were $2.95, 259.74, and 61.48. Subscriptional support was 
$61.48 and from the "Fuller Fund" was received $66.10. The collections totaled 
$48.58, and the Home Mission Society added $3.86 !! Of amazement though was 
the joining into membership of Mrs. Drew on January 4, 1885. To quote the 
church record ''Mrs. Drew in her One Hundredth Year takes the step for example 
and confronteth her mistake on not <?? Joining> he church earlier in life — Mrs 
Drew was welcomed into fellowship with this church by the pastor and a few 
members at her residence, she being unable to attend Church service,"^^^^^ On 
March 23, 1886, a meeting was held and it was decided to extend a call to Rev. 
Albert C. Jones to settle as pastor in Halifax. He began as official pastor on May 
6, 1885. ^^^ Also once again there was a call to paint the meetinghouse and to 
have the pews taxed to pay for the painting. This was decided on April 24**' to 
tax the pews and then use the proceeds to paint. ^^^ Additionally the Ladies 
Circle discussed repairs to the Vestry .^^^ Clearly the financial picture was very 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 117; also Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, 
Book Four (1881 - 1889) for September 3, 1883 . 
^^"^ First Religious Society Records, 1824-1883, page 341-342 
^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 118 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 1 18. ''One Hundred and Fiftieth 
Anniversary of the Church was celebrated by appropriate remarks by former Pastors and a very 
interesting historical address by present Pastor Rev. L. D. Younkin.'"' Hahfax Ladies Sewing Circle, 
Book Four (1 881 - 1 889) September 3, 1 884. Also note the impact of this in the Annual Report 
given in June, 1 885. "... the time and hospitality of the Circle were considerably taxed. This taxed 
our available funds leaving us on quite strained circumstances. " 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885- 1893, page 1 Mr Younkin was paid $392.70 on March 
1, 1885. ( Records page 3) 

^'^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1 832-1 891 , page 1 1 9 
^^'^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1 832-1 891 , page 1 1 9 
First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, pages 6-9, 1 1 
^*' Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle. Book Four (1881 -1889) April 1, 1886 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 249 

tight !!^^^ The contract to paint was to 

cost the church $168.93 and it seems almost $200 was collected. H. D. Packard 
supplied the oil and paint, and Warren Wood painted the church. ^^ It seems 
that the Home Mission Society assisted the church in paying for pastor in 1886 
as well ($3333). On April 5, 1886, the church decided to ask Rev. Jones to settle 
in Halifax. (It is noted the Parish Committee (in attendance) concurred. ^^ The 
evangelism of the Halifax Church was given an additional onus as noted in the 
Women's Circle Annual Report for 1886. The challenge was to address the 
drop-out rate of the youth of the church and there was fear the church may 
become bereft as membership shrank. The narrative text from the records is 
quoted in the footnote. ^^^ A bright note was sung to the Women of the church 
as they collected and sent off a large barrel to the "Freedmen" through Mrs. 
Steele that had spoken to the group in the summer of 1883. Specifically ^'a 
barrel, a large one, was finished with many useful things and started on its long 
journey to Mrs. Steele at Chatanooga, TN, a few days after Christmas. ...The time 
to make many hearts glad... ** ^*** In 1887 the expenses and income were the same 


Cash on Hand = $3.10 Paid A.C. Jones for Preaching - $361.50 

Rec' vd from envelopes = 208.94 I.L Sturtevant - care of church - 50.00 

Collections = 78.66 for Coal and carting = 14.00 

Subscriptions- 118.00 E.B.Thompson = 20.00 

Fuller Fund- 56.00 Mrs. I. L. Sturtevant (music) - 5.00 

Total = $ 464.70 Total = $ 450.50 

Cash on Hand = $ 14.20 
^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 15. The actual painting was done on 
September 29, 1886 by Warren Wood of Middleboro. It took 38.5 days and 18. .5 gallons of paint 
plus a gallon of oil at a cost of $13.39, plus $96.25 for the labor. This was repaid by the end of the 
year according to the receipt in the Church Archives. 
^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 121 

^^^ Aimual Report, May, 1 887. ''Whilst they drop out one by one. Is there not something we can do 
to help fill these places. I feel like dear Mrs. Morton when we so so greatly miss. Something 
ought to be done for our young people of the church. Our Pastor is trying to get them interested 
in church affairs, cannot we help him un some way for the surest way to bring the young into the 
church is to first get them interested in church work... " 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881 - 1889) December 21, 1887. This was three 
year later than the solicitation, yet the following list bears out why. Remember this was all 
handwork clothing and items. The list of items sent from Halifax included IN PART : 

12 Handkerchiefs, 1 1 Towels 4 Bed Quilts 

9 Sleeping Gowns 4 Flannel Drawers 3 Flarmel Shirts 

13 Body Bandages 3 Pillows 3 Pillow Cases 
3 pair Woolen Socks 71 Rolls Bandages 9 Lbs Coffee 

3 Lbs Cocoa 3 Lbs Sugar 1 Lb Com Starch 

1 Lb Cake Soap Rags 38 Flannel Shirts 

1 Pr Cotton Drawers 25 pr Woolen Drawers 1 9 pr socks 
6 Dressing Gowns 5 Shirts 5 Bed Quilts 

11 BRAILLE books 28 handkerchiefs 8 Towels 

The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 250 

precisely. A.C. Jones was paid for V2 

years service at $161.30, and Wm Josselyn was paid $348.33. He was the interim 
after the June departure of Rev. Jones and in 1888, Rev. Josselyn (as supply) 
was paid $405. The still unpaid painting bill was partially paid out of cash 
raised and partly from the endowment left to the church by Tiley Wood. ^^^ ^^^ 
Still, the support of the church was meager in 1888. ^^^ The Mission fever in 
Halifax Continued with their next cause when in February, 1888, a call came in 
for support from Boston "for the Intemperate women". The response gives rise 
to their interest , "...and although we know little of this evil we gladly respond. 
In May, 1888 a box of items was sent to this Home. ^^^ Only a month later 
(June, 1888) the Ladies discussed and voted to use the extra church tablecloths 
for crib sheets for the "North End Mission" in Boston, a home for children and 
their connection was their prior pastor. Rev. Younkin. In this they also added 
several patchwork quilts they would make and include in the shipment. ^^^As an 
aside, this was the year of the Great Blizzard that buried so much of New 
England in the Spring of 1888. ^^^ Within the 1888 Ladies Sewing Circle 
Annual Report delivered in May, 1889, the needs of the church facility were 
shared in hopes they would be addressed in 1889 successfully. ^^^ By the winter 

of 1890, the new carpet was in place at the church, and the repaired cushions 
were returned to the church. ^^'* 1888 was also a banner year for the youth of the 
church for on June 18, 1888 the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor 

RAGS Books: Magazines, reading material. 

Dried Cranberries- 1 Bushel Box containing 6 Bottles wine, packed in dried apples (aprox. 

1 Bushel) 
^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 22, and also Church Society Records, Book 
Two, 1832-1891, page 121 

^^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts , "Sunday Schools and 
Benevolence," 1888 year, page 109. The chart puts forth 75 members, and support of the following 
charities : Church mission - $10, Foreign Mission - 18, Home Mission Soc. = 12, Other mission - 

^^^ The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts, 1888 as quoted by Historian 
Guy Baker, 
1 888 - Financial Report 

Subscription - $1 79.70 Envelopes - $107.83 Contributions - $72.06 

Fuller Fund - $56.00 TOTAL INCOME- $476.34. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881-1889) February 22, 1 888 
^^' Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881 - 1889) June 6, 1888 
^^^ Timetables of History , by Grun, "1888" 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Four (1881 - 1889) May, 1889 ..."Let us hope before 
another year comes around to find our church shingled, plastered, carpeted and warmed. . ." This 
was carried forward six months later as the Sewing Circle , ''VOTED to place the matter <repairs of 
the church> in the hands of the Parish Committee 'to make all necessary arrangements ' . The 
Ladys pledging themselves in the sum of Three Hundred Dollars with which to make repairs. " This 
offer was accepted and the moneys were directed towards the carpeting. (October 23, 1889). 
^^"^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle. Book Four (1881-1889) February 1 9, 1 890. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 251 

was organized at the Halifax 

Congregational Church. It first met in the church vestry with Joseph Sylvester 
as the moderator and James Thomas as the Secretary. The organization would 
have three classes of membership; Active, Associate and Honorary. The dues 
were to be 5 cents per month. ^'^ They met an hour before the regular Sunday 
Evening service. This may have also been as a result of the town's August 25, 
1888 new By-Law concerning the empowerment of truant officers for the 
community. It was also the year of the initial collection of historical 
memorabilia. ^^^ The following Spring on May 6, the Youth ''VOTED a 
committee of three be approved to arrange for some observance of Memorial Day, 
VOTED a committee be appointed to join with a committee from the Sunday 
School for some appropriate service on Children *s day, VOTED to send a delegate 
to the national Convention on July 9,10,11*'*. VOTED that Senator Rowland of 
New Bedford be invited to speak in the Church after Sunday evening May id"*. And 
VOTED that our society be connected with the Social Union of Christian 
Endeavor, " ^^^ <A large pulpit Bible in the church archives denoted as belonging 
to the Christian Endeavor and dated at June 2, 1889.> In 1889, the preaching 
was shared by two interims, Rev. Josselyn for % of the year and Alfred Brittain 
for about Va, In fact Rev. Brittain was retained in 3 month stints into 1890. The 
Ladies Organization held their Annual Strawberry Festival for the town on June 
11 but it seems the weather had produced few good strawberries. Not to be 
undone by this setback, a two day Fall fair was planned with a Bean supper one 
night and an Oyster supper the next. "Colored Minstrels" and and art museum 
were all planned to be a part of the festivities. ^^*In the October, 1890, meeting it 
was moved that a church committee be established to confer with a future 
committee chosen by the town and with a committee chosen by the "Grand 
Army" to "Hold a bee for to fix and beautify around the public buildings and 

^^^ Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909), pages Iff. 

Membership- ACTIVE= ''all joining persons who Believe themselves to be Christians and sincerely 

desire to accomplish the results above specified. ASSICYATE= All young persons of worthy 

character who are not willing to be decided Christians may become Associate Members of this 


^^^ Halifax Town Records, Book Five: 1875- 1908, page 274, "^wgw^r 25, 755<5, all children 

between the ages of 7 and 15 residing in said town and who may be found wandering about in the 

streets and in the public places of said town, ..., not attending school and growing up in ignorance, 

shall be committed to some truant school for confinement, instruction and discipline. " 

Page 293- A committee of 7 residents were chosen to collect historical information and this will be 

stored in the town clerk's office. 

^^^ Young People's Societv of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909), pages 1-8. Seems 

this group became quite dynamic right from the start. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sevying Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) June 4, 1890, September 3, and 

September 24, 1 890. It turns out that the Minstrels could not be booked to come for the fair so they 

invited instead the "Ladies Quartette " in Hanson to sing. In time they shortened the fair to one day 

and had the Oyster Supper. All members made aprons during the summer months to sell at the fair 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 252 

'Soldiers Monument' situated at the 

center of said town". ^^^ This may have been a part of civic stimulation needed 
for the town's well-being. The population of Halifax continued to decline in this 
last quarter of the century. In 1855 there were 786 people and by 1890 that had 
shrunk to 562. ^^ The Church building was estimated to be worth $5,000 and 
they had $1400 in invested funds. ^°* 

The financial challenges continued into the 1890's for in 1891, at the April 
6**" meeting they reported to have paid Rev. Brittain $231. 00 for the pulpit 
supply for the year plus another (un-named supply at $65). ^^^ In the October 
meeting it was pointed out that the Debt as of January 1, 1892 would be $119.54 
with a $78.00 subscription to cover it leaving a further deficit of $41.54. 

Also in tune with some of the societal changes in churches, more women 
were undertaking leadership roles in the church itself. In 1891, in the Parish 
Society, The committee for collecting money for the support of the ministry was 
left to 4 women in various districts in the town, also, in the April elections Nellie 
Baine was chosen to be the Treasurer, and that parallels the choice of Miss 
Sylvester in 1893. ^^^ The Ladies Sewing Circle stepped forward to support the 
church's needs as well. In an 1890 report of the treasurer there were funds 
expended "for work inside the church = $293.90; Work on steeple = $40.91; 
and for Carpet =$211.09. for a total outlay to the church of $545.90."^®^ In 
addition, the Ladies Circle also held an afternoon tea for the children of the 
town with Miss Alice Soule and Mrs. Whitney to take charge of the tables. Miss 
Soule was to purchase "Japanese" teacups to sell "... VOTED to have school 
girls in each district make cakes for the tea and a prize given for the one making 
the nicest cake." ^^^ The women of the church voted in December to assume the 
rent of the house used as a parsonage to the amount of $36. Beyond that they 
paid for repairs for a leak in the steeple. ^^ 

On January 1^^ 1891, Rev. William McBride began a year-long supply in 
Halifax having previously been an occasional supply but was to become a 
regular supply pastor from this point on. The Town of Halifax decided to allow 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 31 

^^^ Vital Records of Hahfax , "Population" ; specifically 1875 = 568, 1880 = 542, 1885 - 530, 1890 

= 562. 

^^' The Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of Massachusetts, 1890 year, page 104. 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 33-4 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 30 and 43 

^^ Original church record- copy of the document in the church archives, (ladies groups) Further 

documentation on the letterhead of "Mrs. J. P. Thompson" shows a comparison between the 1852 

carpeting and the 1 889. The 1 852 cost was $1 82, and the 1 889 (55 cents per sq yard) came to $21 3 

and was paid for. 

^"^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) October 7, 1890 

^^'^ Halifax Ladies Sewimz Circle. Book Five (1890-1896) January 2 1 , 1 89 1 . ''VOTED on 

examining the entry of steeple that some more repairs needed to be made on the church, and it was 

decided to ask Mr. James Thomas to inspect the leakage. " 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 253 

free use of the town hall for free and 

fundraising entertainment. (It was also the first stipend for July 4 fireworks 
locally) ^^^In September, 1891, discussion began to revise the Creed and 
Covenant of the Church. At the subsequent meeting on October 29*'', it was 
^^determined the "Old Creed" too doctrinal for young converts and that written 
by Mr. McBride was sufficient and he moved it be adopted. At this the third 
versions of the Bylaws was adopted. ^^^On January 4, 1892, it was voted to invite 
Rev. William McBride to settle as the pastor in Halifax until the First of April. 
This is so that the church could see if enough money could be raised to support 
the minister for the year. This is contingent on the input from the Home 
Mission Society for help with the salary amount's support. ^^^ In the accounting 
of the First church meeting of 1892 on January 1, shows substantial money 
being input from the Home Missionary Society. ^^^ The Ladies Circle pledged to 
cover the $12 deficit from the prior year "on account of the parsonage" but did 
not take any action beyond the vote. ^" Still, Rev. McBride had left Halifax by 
late Spring. That spring the Youth of the church voted to put a collection box in 
the church to counter the expense of sending their delegate to the national 
Convention in NY. ^^^The Annual Report of the Ladies Sewing Circle for 1891 
delivered in May, 1892, containes a challenge for the congregation not to 
become a "club" and needs to invest in outreach beyond its walls and doors. 

"... / think we must broaden our field of usefulness and while we still work 
to raise money for purposes where needed, we might spend a little time for 
something suitable and in this way create an interest in something besides 

A missionary box of clothing and books collected, 

A barrel or so to some needy ones L, W, Packard, Sec, " ^^^ 

^"^ Halifax Town Records, Book Five: 1875- 1908, page 327 February 7, 1891- ''To see of the 

town will vote to give the hall free of expense for entertainment held for the benefit of church, 

Public Library, School and Lectures to which then public is invited without admission fee " 

Fireworks- "Town appropriated $25 for the 4^ of July 'provided as much or more is raised by the 

boys (petition) ". 

These were both voted favorably on March 2, 1891 ( Records page 328) 

^^^ Church Society Records, Book Two, 1832-1891, page 128-9 

^^^ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 40 (Response letter original in Ch. Archives) 

^'^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 1 In this registry it is noted the following: 

Home expenses in 1891 = $700 

Benevolent Contributions - $71.00 

Home Missionary Society - $275.00. With this the church voted to "continue the services of Rev. 

McBride as pastor. " 

^^' Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) March 16, 1892 

^^^ Young People's Societv of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909) May 29, 1892. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) May 5, 1892 <Annual Report> 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 
Even so most of the notes revolve 


around the central need of repairs of the church facility. 


In May and June several supply pastors are noted. In June Rev. Louis 
EUms supplied the pulpit and he was asked to settle in Halifax with his tenure to 
begin on July 17, 1892 and was granted two weeks vacation time and a salary of 


$700. That August on Aug. 28, Rev. Ellms and his wife, Annie Paul EUms, 

Vestry / Sunday School Room (beneath the Sanctuary) 

Of Note: Benches may have been pews used in the "Old (Vieetinghouse" prior to I8S2. 

Also - musical instrument may be the Serephene used in worship until replaced ca 1875. 

were received into fellowship by transfer from The United Congregational 
Church of Columbus, South Dakota. ^^ It was good to have a pastor in the 
leadership and the Ladies Circle decided in the summer of 1892 to try a new 
thing, an "outing" to 

Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1 890-1 896) June 1 , 1 892, notes some action taken 
regarding the fixing of the plastering in the church vestibule. 

^' Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 3 . Rev. Mr. Brownsville preached on May 8, 
1 5 and 22"". Rev. Ellms thereafter. 
^'^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 3 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 255 

Plymouth to the beach. To be sure it was a 

grand success and the newspaper even reported it in their pages. ^^^ It wouldn't 
be their last one. The Annual Report synopsis finished with "...crowded 
ourselves on a barge. We visited Plymouth and took a sniff of the Old Ocean. It 
was a gala day for this staid 

and sober society" The 

Spring, 1892, Meeting of 

the Pilgrim Conference was 

held in Halifax on April 5*" 

and 6**' and "the Sewins 

Society directed the affair 

and making the collation 

ample and very generous in 

quality, -- None went away 

hungry ~ Three meals were 

served at Town Hall Lodging and One meal - by the citizens at their homes ~ Was 

a very pleasant gathering'*\ ^** On December 5, 1892, several topics of central 

importance came to the fore, the first was a motion to exchange the "organ" or 

This article is pasted in the Records of the Women's Circle: Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle. 
Book Five (1890-1896) July 27, 1892. 

^'^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 2 The Ladies Sewing Society had been going 
since the 1850's. Like many such societies I was a combination of benevolence, fellowship, service 
and fimdraising. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 256 

selling it, or purchasing a new one. The 

other motion was to see if the pews could become "free" that is not "rented" as 
had been the case for a long time but free for any to use. So it was requested to 
create a committee to ''correspond with the pew owners and learn what proportion 
will voluntarily surrender there Heads of Pews to the society or church and make 
report,.,'*'* J^^ The question about the organ was taken up at the meeting on 
November 22, 1892 and it was decided to exchange the organ towards the 
purchase of a new one. The committee chosen to discover if the pews were to be 
surrendered was comprised of Mrs. H. D. Packard, Miss Nellie Baine, and Miss 
Sue Sylvester. ^^^ Further policy changes were the decision to elect Sunday 
School Officers in the future rather than appoint them. In 1893, 
James Thomas was elected Superintendent and Joseph Sylvester was Assistant 
Superintendent. Miss N. M. Whitman is Secretary and Miss Edith Packard is 
the Treasurer. Also of importance was a vote to make a contribution to 
"benevolent objects once in two months" by taking a collection. . In March of 
1893, there was a change in solicitation procedures as the church decided to use 
the "envelope system of voluntary contributions" . The good news here was 
that the money subscribed ($654.63) was more than the expenses of the year 
($611.64). ^^* The women of the church made their next outing to the Beaches of 
Duxbury on July 19, 1893. Again the Newspapers were there to cover the outing. 

Co*! r1^l•«*»••J Ckmdti li»4 It. «illil«t «««iili 

■i»lJy ffPtnt IB lM*l»iirj. Tir» %m»m «««»• 
bfi lotro ttfir in I** »«>*»• •^*>* »*>^« 
forty p#o|»l» «> ^x*"^ *»*^ »rrlf«4 M ti» 
•bora whonij »ft#r » ©'e»fi<ili, Tim mm 
bfidf* c<iiiot<?U«!i r»»^»f I*»«ffli mi lit 

tpviii 00 tlM> !•«§ Mo* ^i hmdHk^ altif «Mi 

th» d^lifbii «r o)d l>atb«ry till tli» 
»T#i!ii4i|, vXti^ing a|i <MB« sf lb* 


First Rehgious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 45-6 
First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 47 
First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 44 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 



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The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 258 

Also it was floated to "inquire into the feasibility of incorporating the church 
under present state laws..." ^^^ It was reported informationally that to be 
incorporated the church must be "organized by making a choice of a Clerk who 
was duly sworn".^^^ The matter was well-discussed at a meeting on December 
30, 1893 to organize the church into a corporation and to elect the officers to do 
that and again on January 6, 1894 with a favorable result. It was therefore 
moved "To incorporate the church under Chap 404 of the Acts and Resolves of 
1884 and proceed with the necessary steps thereto.... And that we delay final 
action until March after the annual parish meeting ..."^^'^ 

Throughout the latter party of 1893 and into 1894 the Ladies Circle 
continued their critical support of the church from a 3 year insurance renewal 
and repairs to the vestry to fixing the church fence and inspections for ceiling 
repairs in the sanctuary. ^^^ The missionary thrust was for the needy in 
Wisconsin which was sent on December 27 and received January 10, 1894. ^^^ 
Likewise the Youth of the Church wanted to make their input into the church's 
improvement so they again they placed a box in the church to support the 
installation of Lamp for the yard of the church. Beyond this they undertook a 
mission of their own. After reading some letters from the City Mission Society 
they learned of the need to raise money for the poor for dinners provide for 
them at Thanksgiving. They voted to send $3.00 right away. 
At the Annual Meeting of the Parish Society on March 19, 1894, the society 
discussed the propensity of "incorporation". To do this the "society" would 
have to tender it's control of the society if the church becomes Incorporated 
under the Statute Laws of the Commonwealth. It was voted in that meeting 
"that the parish surrender all its interests to the church in case the church 
become incorporated under existing laws. Moved that Harrison D. Packard to 


convey its property to the church, in case the church become incorporated..." 
With this vote the funds and power of control was transferred out of the Society 
that had existed since 1824 to the Church. New ByLaws were created for the 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 6-7 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 8, 10-12. 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 12 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) August 23, 1893. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896)December 13, 1893. ''The ladies have 

finished a hedquilt. is to be first in the barrel of partly worn clothing which the church in to 

send to a missionary in Wisconsin. " 

^^^ Young People^s Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909), September 3, 1893 

and November 5, 1893. 

™ First Religious Society Records, 1885-1893, page 53, also Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 

1913, page 13-16 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 259 

case made and provided as appears from the certificate oj ^a. /i^yt.n^uZ^ z:^ x^i<^ 

__ ._ _ s^!taM.^!6i^yz^^S/^^^</>'nt^Ce,^ 

of said corporation, duly approved by the Commissioner of Corporations, and recorded 
in this office: 

ilofo, C^enfore, I, WILLIAM M, OLIN, Secretary of the Common- 
wealth of Massachusetts, DO HEREBY CERTIFY that sa^d -- 

their associates and successors, are legally organized and established as and are 
made an existing corporation under the name of , - -^ 

with the powers, rights, and privileges, and subject to the limitations, duties, and 
restrictions which by law appertain thereto- 

ISSitttJCSS my official signature hereunto subscribed, and the seal 
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hereunto affixed, this 

ydecayu^ day of. '3^lA.cZ/. in the year of 

our Lord one Ikottsand eight hundred and ninety-J^tru/iy. 

_ iJj^KM^ __- 

Secretary of tlie Commonwealth. 

incorporated body and were to be copied into a pamphlet printed for the 
members to have as a reference in handy readable form. ^^^ 

Rev. EHms was instructed to carry out the incorporation mandate for the 
church. In the meanwhile the church continued to participate in various 
ecclesiastical and regional events. James Thomas was the church's Delegate to 
the "General Association" held in Pittsfield on May 15, 1894. The Pilgrim 
Conference of Churches had its Fall meeting in October, 1894, and our delegates 
were Lydia Grover, Sue Sylvester, Mrs. Shepard Thompson, and Mrs. R. D. 
Packard. New Hymnbooks were considered and the selection was left to the 
Pastor and Organist to select and get them. In 1894 our Mission giving was 
shown to be as follows : 

American Board of Missions, American Educational Society, Congregational 
Church Bible Society, and The Sunday School Publication Society. In 1895 we 
reported for the yearbook the following : Home Missions - $25, Am. Missionary 
Soc and kindred work - $24, Foreign (World Board) = $15, All other charities 
including "gifts by Ladies of clothing = $47. ^^^ 

The members of the Christian Endeavor decided to hold an anniversary 
reception and service on June 22, 1894 in the Vestry of the church. They would 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 18 

730 /- 


^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 19-20 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 260 

invite: The Junior Society in the Hanson 

Society, the South Hanson Society, the Plympton Society and the Society of 
Middleboro's First Church. ^^^ 

The sentiments for Rev. and Mrs. Elims were very positive and the Ladies 
Society even penned a "tongue in cheek" poem about this couple dated 1894: 
"A Comforter for The Pastor and His Wife 

Who in this time of goodly fame 

Rear well their share of praise and blame, 

And true to principle remain? 

The Sewing Circle, 

Who on the Church makes all repairs, 

Working together for its welfare, 

And e'er it keeps a watchful care? 

The Sewing Circle 

When of Funds there is lack. 

And finances are getting slack. 

Who puts them once more on the track? 

The Sewing Circle 

When comes around our Conference Day 

The men are willing to finish hay, 

Who is it for the oats must pay? 

The Sewing Circle 

When e'er us hangs misfortune dire. 

Who then protects from loss by fire 

The Church, That heavenward lifts the spire? 

The Sewing Circle 

Who when the days are hot and long. 

Go for an outing thirty strong, 

Returning thence with jest and pong? 

The Sewing Circle 

Who wish the Pastor well supplied. 
With comforts both long and wide. 

^^' Young People^s Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909) June 1, 1894. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 261 

'Neath which his restless feet may hide? 

The Sewing Circle 

Who will prevent this wordy strife 

Between the Pastor and his wife, 

And by this gift bring peaceful life? 

The Sewing Circle 

Tho' times have changes since this person 

From winter snows to tropic sun. 

Who still are bound to have their fun? 

The Sewing Circle, '' 

The author continues with an explanation about parts that refer to the Pastor in 
Halifax. "/ am not willing this should go on record without a few words of 
explanation lest in years to come, one see this verse and think we lacking in 
respect to our Pastor. 

He has made himself beloved by all, both in the Church and out and is doing 
a good work. But being of a jovial disposition, not only gives many jokes but can 
also appreciate one at his expense, hence these lines upon the occasion of 
presenting him and his wife with a Comforter, which hung as a may basket, and a 
pleasant meeting evening enjoyed by the Circle and their friends, "^^^ 

''^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1 890-1 896) Although the poem and note are not 

dated in the records, it is likely early May, 1894 is specified. 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 262 

Likewise, the Christian Endeavor 
Anniversary Party went quite well. The Worship Service was ordered as follows 
as illustrated from the YPSCE Records in the Archives: 

This joviality continued as the Ladies headed to Brant Rocks on July 11 
for their summer outing. ^^^ BY the next January (1895) the mission endeavor 
went towards the needs out west. On January 9, a "Barrel of aprons and 
clothes, etc., was sent to Nebraska posted for Lincoln, Nebraska, where the 
barrel was sent to wait a call from some needy distant further west." ^^"^ 

On January 15, 1895, it was voted to petition the General Court in 
"conjunction with other Evangelical Churches to revoke all licenses and change 
Laws as to make illegal all sectarian amusements held on the Sabbath. In a 
later meeting, the danger of fire was addressed and it was voted to remove all 
trees and bushes that are likely to enhance the danger of fire ~ from church 


Halifax Udies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) 
Brant Rocks and spent a most beautiful day... " 

'28 Ladies went in Baily 's Barge to 


Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Five (1890-1896) Entry dated January 23, 1895. 


The History of the Hahfax Congregational Church - 263 

grounds. "^^^ So, the trees planted by the 

Ladies Sewing Circle when the church was built were taken down. . In 1896 
the church was also papered. ^^^ The Youth of the church continued their 
mission endeavors with some zeal. $1.50 of the money of their treasury was sent 
as part of a collection to the Christian Endeavor Day Offering to the American 
Missionary Association. They would support a variety of mission outreaches 
annually. Later that year in September another $1.50 was given to purchase 
"new singing books" for the Sunday School. ^^^ 

On January 4 , 1896, Rev. Ellms submitted his resignation to the church and 
the letter was rejected unanimously by vote. The response was returned in the 
subsequent January n**" meeting , 

*"',,, That it is the unanimous desire of this church, as represented by those 
assembled in this meeting, that Mr, Ellms withdraw his letter of resignation and 
remain with us as our pastor and furthermore we will try more earnestly to sustain 

Mr. Ellms replied ," Dear Bretheren and Sisters, ~ I fully intended that my 
resignation should be final, but I cannot in any way deem to slight the unanimous 
desire of the church and Community, 

However, I will not take it upon myself to decide this important matter but if 
you agree, will submit it to a council of the Church to be called for this purpose ~ 
the Council, in case it report favorably on the continuance of the pastoral relation, 
to be a recognition Council recognizing me as your pastor for the further term of 
one and one-half years pastorate with you. Hoping this will be approved both by 
you and our Master.,, '* '^^^ This was accepted. In fact at the Annual Meeting of 
January 2, 1897, it was moved after discussion of Rev. Ellm's circumstance that 
he be asked to remain until July, 1897 and he agreed to that request (BUT not 
withstanding that he should receive a call somewhere else). The salary was to 
remain as it was, and the church would receive some funding from the Home 
Mission Society. ^^^ Demographically, the reported value of the church was 
dropped ($5,000 in 1890) to $3500 in 1895, and they were $100 in debt. 

"^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 23 

Copy of a Ladies Society Report. Of particular note in this was a registry of names used by the 
society ongoing: 
1 853 - The Missionary Society 

1853- Ladies Benevolent Society 

1857 - Ladies Sewing Circle 

1881- Ladies Sewing Circle 

<Halifax Church Archives- Copy of original document> See Insert History following: 
^^^ Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909), January 20, 1895 and 
September 1, 1895 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 31-33 
^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 39-40 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 264 

Halifax as a town continued to 
embrace modern upgrades as it was decided to officially name the various 
streets in the town, renaming some. Between March of 1896 and march 1897, 
the streets were labeled. ^"^^ The Ladies Sewing Circle returned again in the 
summer outing to Brant Rock on July 24, 1896 with 26 Ladies and three 
children going. The following summer outing used a new mode of transport to 
go to "Hough's Neck" in Mid July, 1896. "25 ladies and 2 children went to 
Hough's Neck. ...leaving the store at 6 AM for Whitman, from there we went in 
the Electric Cars, returning at 9 /4 PM." ^"^^ The fun of the summer became a 
fundraiser for the church's needs as in late July the Ladies voted to hold a Lawn 
party and to engage the Middleboro Band with an admission of 10 cents. It was 
a grand success. ''^'^ The need was great as the church was in financial distress 
and the next January they took on the necessary repairs of the facility. "^^^ Rev. 
Ellms was also chosen to preside over a town meeting as moderator on 
November 5, 1896. '^^^ 

On May 9, 1897, Rev Ellms asked if the church would allow the "Gallery" 
to be fixed up as a children's room. Simultaneously there was an expenditure of 
the L.P. Fund for books and the removal of three trees near the church that are 
dying or dead. Likewise on may 9***, the Youth of the church voted to empty 
their treasury to send funds to the needy in India. ^"^^At the meeting of June 17, 
1897, Rev. Ellms announced he had accepted a call to a church in New Castle, 
NH. Sadly, the church was again in some debt and in June and July the 
discussions revolved around scenarios as to how to eradicate it. ^^ Still on July 
18*'' Mr. B. F. Thompson and Mr. J. P. Thompson were chosen to attend the 
140*'' meeting of the Plymouth Conference at Chilton ville Church in Plymouth. 
The dues for the Conference had not been supported for around three years to 
date. There was no money in the Treasury so the matter was tabled. ^"^^ Even so, 

^"^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875-1908, pages 467-469 is a list of named streets 

including those renamed. (Vote to name - March 21, 1896. Vote to put up signs- March 7, 1897) . 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) Dated July 24, 1895 and July 22, 1896. 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) July 29, 1896. 

'"^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) January 20, 1897. 'TOTED by the circle 

that the secretary write to Mr. John Thompson of Kingston to see if he would come to Halifax to 

examine the inside of the church and advise us on what we had better do in regard to fixing it. " 

^'^ Halifax Town Records . Book Five: 1 875-1 908, page 459. In fact on March 7, 1 897, Ellms was 

paid $5 for his services, (page 472) 

Also in 1 896 was the first petition to have an electric railway run within Halifax. Halifax Town 

Records , Book Five: 1875-1908, page 495, "On petition of request of directors of the Whitman and 

Plymouth Street Railway Company for the right to lay tracks and erect poles and wires for the 

purpose pf operating a street railway in the town of Halifax. Public hearing ordered for May 28, 


''^^ Young People^s Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909) May 9, 1897 

'"^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 45 

^"•^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 47 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 265 

the Ladies of the church had their 

^'outing" to Plymouth and visited a church member who owned a cottage on the 
coast for the day. They also planed their "Annual" lawn party which raised 
enough funds to support some of the needed work on the church. The Vestry 
doors were painted, door glass repaired, and the sanctuary blinds were also 
repaired. '^^^ 

In the Fall of 1897, several candidates preached in Halifax. In October, 
Rev Allen and Mr. Raiser preached and in November (14) Mr. H. H. Leonard 
Preached but was called to East Taunton. On the 21^\ Mr. J. H, Jones preached 
as a candidate and again on the 28^^. The situation was dire and in a meeting 
also on November 28^** it was discussed that "in the present state of finances we 
could not have much more Candida ting"... It was moved to consider Mr. Jones 
to stay. It was decided to look at "One more candidate". On December 5, Mr. 
Francise preached in Halifax and the choice was in favor of Mr. Jones 
wondering still if her would consider the position as pastor. On December 6, the 
church sent a letter to him in North Abingdon, that says in part, 
"... Moved that Mr, J H, Jones be asked to come as our pastor for an indefinite 
time, with the understanding that a three months notice of a desire to change be 
given by either Church or Pastor. " The salary was "... the same as it was last 
year: $600. ''and the use of house. '' Simultaneously a letter was sent to Mr. N. 
L. Morton to see whether Mr. Jones intended to allow us to use a parsonage. As 
before . Mr. Jones' answer arrived on December 8*** dated 12/7/1897. 

Beloved in the Lord; 
Your call to me to became your pastor has been received and I accept the same in 
all it terms. 

It is my purpose to be with you next Sabbath and to enter fully upon the 
pastorate from that day forward. 

Circumstances here do not permit me to move my family this month, but I 
shall hope to do so next month.... '^^^^ 

Likewise the issue of the "parsonage" was settled as well. In a December 
7*** letter addressed to the committee we find: 

''As far as I know you can have the present the opposite side of the house for 
a parsonage, that is the side of the house now occupied by Frank Lyon. " 

At this point it was decided to solicit the Home Mission Society for support 
and it was also decided to ask about the terms of the lease from Mr. J. L Jones. 
It is the mannerly structure that stood where the current elementary school now 
stands, and which became the girl's school in future years. The following photo 
is if the house later on and the NW side is towards the viewer. Mr. Jones, on his 

^"^^ Halifax Ladies Sevsdng Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) June 30, 1897 and October 6, 1897 

749 /- 


'''^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892-1913, page 54 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 266 

reply of December 23, had "no problem 
with Rev. Jones 
occupying the NW side 
of the Old Poole House 
until I should have some 
further use for it. A new 
lease can be prepared by 
Mr. Morton in the same 
form as the old one, 
providing for its use by 
the church from month 
to month without any 
charge. " It was later 
asked of Mr. Jones to see 
if the East side of the 
house may be used instead. He was "interviewed personally" Mr Jones was 
clear that he "would not be willing to put any expense on the house. Mr Morton 
said he had felt that as Mr. Lyon had paid rent he had the right to the choice 
and so gave him permission to move. He felt he had done all he cared to without 
consulting with Mr. Jones. So he should not feel like giving the church 
permission to put in extra flues without first making the matter known to Mr. 
Jones, and getting his consent..." ^^^ With that firestorm settled down, Rev. 
Jones and his family settled into a portion of the house and to begin his pastorate 
in Halifax. 

Rev. Jones' salary was soon in arrears and Mr. Thomas spoke to the 
membership after the morning service 'Ho know how we stood financially and 
whether church had but better do something by way of assuming the burden 
themselves instead of letting it fall upon the pastor. 

Treasurer said we now owed $10 on this pastor* s salary ..."^^' 


Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 55-56. Photo from History of Halifax by Guy 

Baker, page 43. 


Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 60 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 267 

The church continued on trying to 
continue the ministry it could. It did participate in the Pilgrim Conference 
meetings in April and October in Plymouth and Kingston, Respectively. Also, in 
1898, the church worked to support the missions it felt important: American 
Board by Women's Auxiliary = $30 & Collection = $6; P. S. C. E. = $6; Home 
Missions by collection - $20; Congregational Sunday School Society = by 
Collection on Children's Day - $7; Other = $5. ^^^ Also in January, 1899, the 
church solicited the Home Missions Society to see if another grant might be 
possible. In addition Rev. Jones' salary was retained at the same level as in 
1898. The women's group also put up "window shades" in 1898. ^^^ It is likely 
that Rev. Jones was quite savvy to some of the new technology becoming 
available and 1898 was a year 
of considering this. One 
proposal to the Ladies Circle 
in March, 1898 was to sell 
tickets for a "stereopticon" 
show in the church. A couple 
of months later in the Ladies 
Circle lighting the church 
with new and brighter gas 
lights was first discussed. 
This was moved on from May 
to July of 1898 and the 
church was illuminated with 
"Niagara Burners". ^^^ With 
this project in hand, the 
Ladies continued to work on 
repairs during the Fall. 
Although not recorded there 
was likely the Annual lawn 
party and funds were 
available. In October, C.P. 
Thompson repaired the 

ChurchRecords, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 63-4 


Handwritten note of the work of the church women noting this as a fact, (copy found in the 
Church Archives.) 

^^"^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) OnMay4, 1898 "Voted to have the 
church look into and find out what he can about different methods of lighting the church and see if 
it comes within our means to do it. " On May 18^^ "Mr. Jones reports what he learned in regard to 
lighting the church... " June 15 "Committee on lighting the church report they think Niagara 
Burners put into the old lamps and used without the shades and a bracketed lamp over the door will 
light the room sufficiently. " July 1 "Voted to have Mr. Jones get the burners for the lamps for the 
church. " 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 268 

furnace and repaired the vestry, In 

November, Mr. Scuggel was contracted to whitewash the vestry. Humorously 
there is an added note for Mr. Scuggel's help to '''see if there is any way to stop 
the Ram from beating on around one of the small windows of the church. "^^^ On 
January 1, 1899, the town of Halifax voted to put the front of the Town Hall, 
which was the revised old church meetinghouse on the front of their Halifax 
town seal. ^^^ In Early 1899, a New Confession of Faith was put forth and 
adopted with minor changes. ^^^ All this in spite of very harsh weather in 
January with high winds and snow and very low temperatures.^^^ The Youth of 
the Church continued to pitch in in a very meaningful way. On May 28, 1899, 
the Christian Endeavor VOTED to give $8.00 from their treasury towards 
"home church expenses". These young people were genuine in their faith and 
service. They were also sincere in their morals. In the "Annual Report" of the 
Christian Endeavor group there is a reflection on one of their gatherings that 

''The Temperance talk given by our Pastor was very interesting, and we 
believe that the seed sown fell on good ground and will fruit to the Glory of 

This remark has particular poignancy as there was a yearly vote as to 
allow liquor licenses within the town and between the 1870's and the end of the 
1800's the margin of the vote had moved from "unanimous" to nearly even. 
^^^Generally the Century concluded quietly. Demographically, the population 
continued to shrink in Halifax from 1890 on into early 1900's to a low of 498 
people. ^^* 

Indeed our church family closes this century, the 1800's in the midst of 
some struggle just as the larger world of protestant religion was in struggle as 
well. ^^^ The retrospective reader certainly is aware of the slow but steady gains 

^^^ Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle, Book Six (1896-1899) October 12, 1898 and November 9, 1898. 

^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875-1 908, page 52 1 . 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 72, 73-74 

^^^ Timetables of History , by Grun , "1899". 

^^^ Young People^s Society of Christian Endeavor Record book (1889-1909) May 28, 1899, and 

July 2, 1899. 

^^^^ Halifax Town Records , Book Five: 1875-1908, page 534, The vote tally (to sell liquor licenses) 

was No = 41, and Yes = 36. A margin of only 5. 

^^' Vital Records of Halifax, "population" ; Specifically - 1890 = 562, 1895 = 497, 1900 = 522, 

1905 = 497. 

The main groups of agitators of main-line religion in the late 1800 were as follows : 
1 - Agnostics, socialists, free-religion groups = total "Disestablishmenf . 

2- Liberal - social Gospel followers - wanter to adapt Christian faith and practice to more 
urgent modem world. 

3- Ethnic Dissenters - groups of immigrants that did not wish to embrace orthodox Protestant 

4- Vast Interdenominational movement - did not want irmovation in religion .. 

The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 269 

that this people of faith has made. Still, 

gains but also with thanksgiving for those that have assisted. In January, 1900, 
a letter of thanks was penned to Mr. J. L. Jones (living in Philadelphia) to thank 
him for the free use of the "parsonage" for the church's pastor PLUS a $25 
subscription as well.^^^ 

Rev. Jones would be the pastor in Halifax until his death 1904, but the 
conclusion of that pastor's story shall be left for future chroniclers to tell as the 
church and pastor venture into the Twentieth Century and the adventures found 
there and beyond for church, town and people. The white, regal spire that is 
visible from all directions remains a herald to the faith, love and hope found in 
the midst of this church family, and the dulcet and comforting sounds of the 
bells that sound the hours continue to call to the community about the presence 
this special place as well as the faithful people who reside here. Indeed we have 
shared together in these pages the rich and special and ongoing story of the 
Halifax Congregational Church; the church at the very HEART of Halifax, 
whose second meetinghouse structure is also 155 years old, and to the 
congregation of friends, neighbors and a legacy of fellowship, now Two 
Hundred and Seventy Five years YOUNG! This is part one of your story. 

5- Pentecostal Churches- desire for "rebirth of life in the Spirit" chiefly, finding initial interest 
in the disinherited, uneducated. They had a fundamentalists "concern for Biblical Inerrancy 
and Christ's 2"*^ Coming". Religious History of the American nation , by Sydney Ahlstrom, 
Volume II, page 274-5 

^^^ Church Records, Book Three, 1892- 1913, page 82-3, plus glued insert page. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Halifax Congregational Church 
January 1, 1900 

Alden, Mrs. Annie 
Baine, Miss Nellie L. 
Bourne, Mrs. Nellie 
Churchill, Edmund 
Danforth, M. Juliet 
Grover, Miss Ada M. 
Grover, Harry 
Holmes, Miss Nettle C. 
Jones, Rev. Jessee H. 
Parker, Mr. George W. 
Thomas, Mr, James T. 
Thompson, Mrs. Cymar 
Thompson, Mrs. Sheppard 
Thrasher, B. J. 
Thrasher, Mertice Parker 
Whitney, Mrs Charles F. 
Wood, Mrs. Abby 

Baine, Mrs. Sarah B. 
Bourne, Lester 
Carver, Mrs. S. L. 
Cole, Mrs Emma 
Grover, Mrs Lydia H. 
Grover, Larwence 
Grover, Edith 
Holmes, Miss Jerusha B. 
Jones, Mrs. Clara D. 
Simmons, Mrs Peleg 
Thompson, Mr. Jabez P. 
Thompson, Mrs. Morton 
Thompson, Miss Maria 
Thrasher, Mrs. B. J. (Carrie) 
Vaughn, Mrs Elsie 
WilUiams. Miss Carrie 

Non Resident: 

Fuller, E. H. Middleboro 

Fuller, Mrs E,H. Middleboro 

Humes , Mrs. E. Pawtucket, RI 

Kelley, Mrs Roxana 

Parker, George A. Hartford, CT 

Poole, Miss sarah New Bedford 

Pratt, Mrs. Levester Middleboro 

Soule , Charles H. Elmwood 

Soule, Mrs. Charles H . Elmwood 

Sturtevant, Ira Kingston 

Sturtevant , Miss Irene Kingston 

Thompson, Miss Clara Westdale 

Thompson, Mrs. J. T. Z. Westdale 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Membership Reports as Gleaned from The Yearbooks of the 
Congregational Churches of Massachusetts 1833-1900. 

YR Leader Inst. 















Rmv As I 










1833 E. Howe ll/15/'32 















1835 E Palmer (supply) 










1838 E.Palmer (supply) 







1843 F.P, Rowland 







3 6 


1844 12/13/1843 










1845 <vacant> 
















1851 E. P. Kimball 









I 70 






I 90 

1854 T. Brainerd 









3 85 

1855 6/27/1855 






1 75 





















2 127 










5 180 






































3 SS Avg 

1864 Bene\ 

' 18 








160 100 

1865 $100 









150 100 

1866 Wm Forbes 





150 90 

1867 3/31/'66 70 












1 150 75 

1868 40 










1 180 100 

1869 80 











200 80 












174 100 











1 146 80 

1872 <vacant> 











139 60 

1873 G. Wright 










129 62 

1874 < ?? > 









1875 F. Bristol 











100 70 

1876 G. Jucan 








1 125 70 

1877 ll/21/'78 








Sch Fam 

1878 < ???> 











1881 J. Wells 










75 65 

1882 <supply> 







100 61 









1890 A Britton 










1893 L EUms 
























The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


Halifax Congregational Church, ca 1900 with horse sheds in the rear 
Photo courtesey of Halifax Museum, Susan Basllle, town Historian 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 



Appendix - Moving structures 




—American AgricuStirfaJIsL votym? 32. Novcrriber I $73. 

HtiiiM were Mimtfini nmvtd whenths prepcitj wai hmv^f^ ••Id 

■nd needed to be nwred. A itmetun ceuld be imved witli eaie 
leaded an the tnvekn to be maved. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 274 

Appendix B 


[IsL Sess.] Province Laws. — 1734-35. 



WHEREAS the lands situate on the northeriy part Preamble, of the north precinct in 
Plimpton, the northerly part of the east precinct in Middleborough, and the southerly part 
of the town of Pembrook[e], is competently filled with inhabitants, who are desirous to be set 
off a distinct and sep[0][e]rate town, and that they may be [be] vested with all the powers and 
privileges of a town, — 

Be it therefore enacted by His Excellency the Govemour, Council and Representatives 
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, 

[SECT. 1.] That ail the lands lying on the northerly part of the north precinct in 
Plimpton, the northerly part of the east precinct in Middleborough, and the southerly 
part of the town of Pembrook[e], as hereafter bounded and described, be and hereby 
is set off and constituted a sep[a][e]rate township by the name of 

Hallifax. A 

[SECT. 2.] The bounds of the said township granted bv to be as followeth; viz., 
beginning at a white-oak tree marked on four sides, standing on the 

bank of Bridgewater River, being the northwest corner bounds of a lot of land 
formerly belonging to Mr. Standish; thence the bounds in Middleborough, extending 
north, seventy-nine degrees east, seventy-four rods, to a red oak, marked on four 
sides, which is the north-east comer of said Standish*s land; thence south, 

sixteen degrees east, about one hundred and Bounds often rods, to a maple standing 
near Standish*s house; thence north, the town twenty-two degrees east, two 
hundred and fifty rods, to a white oak marked on four sides; thence north, ten 
degrees east, one hundred and sixty-one rods, to a white oak, formerly marked, on the 
southerly side of Bridgwater road; thence north, twelve degrees] east, one hundred and 
one rod, to a stake standing in Bridgwater line, on the south side of Seatucket Brook, 
so called, it being a corner bounds between the town of P[l]impton and Pembrook; 
thence the bounds in Pembrook, extending north, twenty degrees east, by a range of 
marked trees in Bridg[e] water line, seven hundred and ninety-one rods, to a small 
ash tree, formerly marked "69, 70," standing in a narrow swamp, being the north- 
west comer bound of the sixty-ninth lotft] in the Major's purchase; thence south, 
sixty-seven degrees and an half east, one hundred sixty-nine pole, to a white oak tree, 
marked "69, 70," standing in the cedar swamp range; thence south, about twenty- 
three degrees east, thro [ugh] the cedar swamp, about five hundred and twelve roas, 
to the mouth of Monponset Pond; fi"om thence east, half a degree northerly, about 
six hundred seventy-one rods, to a white oak tree marked on four sides, standing by 
a corner of Jones's-River Pond, a little to the northward of a run of water; thence 
bounded by said pond until[l] it meets with a line extending from a large split rock in 
Turky Swamp, a little to the southward of the bridge, north, thirty degrees east, unto 
the said pond; thence extending in Plimpton, south, thirty degrees west, about four 
hundred and fifty rods, unto the aforesaid rock in Turky Swamp; from thence south, 
sixty-three degrees and an half west, three hundred ninety-four rod, to Adam's Rocks, 
so called, standing on the west side of a highway that leads from Mr. John Waterman's 
to Plimpton meeting-house; thence south, fifty-six degrees west, five hundred and ten 
rods, to Middleborough town line, forty rods southeastward from Mr. Ebenezer 
Fuller's house; thence in said town line, south, thirty-three degrees and a quarter 
east, fifty rod|s); from thence through Middleborough, extending south, fifty degrees 
west, two hundred rod; from thence north, fifty degrees and a half west, fifty rod, to 
a small swamp-birch standing on the west side of Raven Brook; and thence still north, 
fifty degrees and an half west, three hundred eighty-three rods, to [the] faj brook at 
the upper corner of Ebenezer Cobb's land, and still on the same point or range, 
about two hundred and ninety rods, to Bridgwater River, below the mouth of 
Winnatuscet River; and from thence by said Bridgwater River, to the bounds first 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 276 

[SECT. 3.] And that the inhabitants of the said land before bounded and described, be 
and hereby are vested vdth the powers, priviiedges and immunities that the inhabitants of 
any of the towns within this province are or ought by law to be vested with. 

Provided ^ 

[SECT. 4.1 The inhabitants of the said town of Hallifax, do within the space of two 
years from the publication of this act, settle a learned, orthodox minister, anfl 

provide for his honourable support among them: and likewise provide a 
schoolmaster to instruct their youth in freadmg and writing : only it is to be 


understood that the land of Doctor Polycirpus Loring, adjoining to his dwelling- 
house, and the lands, lying on the south-easterly side of the line, that the north precinct 
voted to the petitioners the 3rd fof] June, 1734, belong to Mess[rs]. Ebenezer 
Standish, Zecnariah Standish, Zecnariah Soul, JabezNewland, Ignatius Loring, 
Samuel Bryant, Joseph P[h]enn[e1y, Nathaniel Bryant, John Battles, and their 
families, dwelling within the bounas of the said township, shall still be and remain 
to the aforesaid town of Plympton. 


tSECT. 5.] Nothing in this act shall be construed or understood to excuse any of the 
labitants of the towns of Plimpton, Middleborough and Pembrook, petitioners 
respectively, from paying their proportionable parts to all former taxes, and also 
the province tax that shall be laid on the said towns for the current year. [Passed 
July 4; published July 6. ^ 

^^ Yesterday and Today , 250 Anniyersary Book , p. 5 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 277 


1734- Confession of Faith and Church Covenant 

First— The Confession of Faith '' 

1st— We do believe with our Hearts and Confess with our mouths— That the Holy 

Scriptures contamed m the Old and New Testament are the Word of God, and are given 
by inspu^tion of God, to be the rule of faith and life. 

2nd— That there is but one only living and true God, and that • in the unity of God Head there 
be three persons of one substance, power, and eternity, God the Faflier, God the Son, and 
God the Hofy Ghost 

3rd — ^That this one God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost made the whole 
world and all things, therein^ m the space of six days, very 

4th-That God made man after His own image, m knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. 

5th-That our first parents being seduced by the subtlety of 

Satan, eating the forbidden fruit, sinned against God, and fell from the estate 
wherein they were created, an4 that all mankind descending fi^m them by 
ordinary generation sinned In and fell with them in the first trans^-ession, and so 
were brought mto a state of sui and misery, losmg communion widi God, and 
folKng under Hk wrath and curse* 

6tfa-That God m His eternal purpose chose and ordained the Lord 

Jesus, H[is only begotten Son, to be the one and onfy mediator between God and man, 
the Prophet, Priest and King, the Head and Safvior of His Church. 

7th — ^That Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Trinity is veiy and eternal God, of one 

substance and equal with the Father, and that, when the niDness of time was come, the 
Son of God, the Second Person m the Trinity, took upon Him man s nature, being 
conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, m the womb of the vfrgm IVfory, of her 
substance; so that the God Head * and manhood were joined together in one Person, 
which Person is very God and very man, yet one Quist, the only mediator between 
God and man. , , 

8th — ^The Lord Jesus Christ by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself upon the 
Cross, hath fiiDy satisfied the Justice of His Father, and purchased, not only 
reconciliation widi God, but an everlasting faiheritance m the Kingdom of Heaven 
for all those whom the Father hath given to Him. 

9th-That the elect of God are made partakers of the redemption purchased by 
Christ, by the efifective applkation of it to their souls by His word and spirit 

1 Oth^ustification is an act of God's free Grace unto sinners, 

in whk;h He pardonetti afl their sms, accepteth and accountedi tfaeu* persons 
righteous in His si0it not for anything wrought m them or done by them, but only 
for the perfect obedience and fuD satisfaction of Christ unputed to them and received 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 278 

lldi- Sanctification is a work of God^s Grace whereby the elect are 
renewed in die whole man after die ima^ of Cod, and are 
enabled more and more to die unto sin and live unto righteousness^ ^ 

12(bThatwh(KoeverGodhatfaaooentedinJesusChrisl,cfetualy called and sanctified by 
His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of Grace, but 
shall certainly 
persevere to the end and be eternally saved.' 

13th-That the -Grace of faith whereby the elect are enabled to 
believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the 
Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought 
by the ministry of the word, by which also and by the 
administration of sacraments And prayer, it is increased and 

14th-That the visible church under the Gospel is not confined to 

one nation, as it was under the Law, but consists of all those throughout the world 
that profess the true religion, according to the Gospel order, and their children and 
is the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, the House and Family of God; and that 
unto this church Christ hath given the ministry, graces and ordinances of God for 
the gathering and perfecting of saints to the end of the world; and doth by his 
own presence and spirit, according to his promise, make them effectual 

15th-That Prayer, Singing of Psalms, Reading of the Scriptures, the Sound Preaching 

and Conscionable Hearing the Word, as also the due administration and worthy 
receiving of the sacraments Instituted by Christ, namely Baptism and the Lord's 
Supper are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God, besides solemn 
fastings and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are in their several 
times and seasons to be used m a holy and religious manner. 

16th — That the Lord Jesus who Is the alone Head of His Church hath appointed officers 
in His house for the regular carrying on of the affairs of His kingdom, and that each 
particular Church hath power from Christ regularly to administer . censures to 
offending members and to carry on the affairs of His visible kingdom according to 
His word. 

17th — That the bodies of men after death turn to dust and see corruption; but their souls 
which neither die nor sleep, having an Immortal substance, immediateh" return 
to God who gave them; the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in 
holiness are received Into Heaven, and the souls of the wicked are cast into Hell. 

ISth-That the bodies of the just and unjust shall be raised at the last Day. 

19th — That God hath appointed a day wherein He will judge the world in righteousness 
by Jesus Christ, in which day all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear 
before, the judgment seat of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, 
and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body whether 
it be good or evil. Fmis 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 279 

Second— The Church Covenant 
Forasmuch as it hath pleased God, Who hath commanded us to pray daily, that His 
kingdom may come and be advanced, and hath given direction In His Holy Word and 
manifold encouragements to His poor servants to seek and set forward His worship and 
the concernments of His glory: We do therefore personally present ourselves this day in 
the holy presence of God, to transact with Him this great affair of His kingdom and 
Glory, and of our own salvation; and humbling ourselves before the Lord for all our sins 
and the sins of ours, earnestly praying for pardoning mercy and reconciliation with God 
through the blood of our Lord Jesus and for the gracious presence and assistance of His 
Holy Spirit, under a deep ^sense of our own weakness and unworthiness and with an 
humble confidence of His favourable acceptation, each of us for our selves and all of us 
jointly together, enter into a holy Covenant with God and one with another— that is to 
say-We do according to the terms and teooroftfae everlasting Covenant First, give up 
ourseK^es- and our (^^prkig unto the Lonl Gkxl, Falber, Scm and Holy (^^ 
only tnie and living Gkxl, aH sufl&aent and our God in Cofvenant, and unto our Lord J^ 
Qinst, our only Savk)ur, our Pn)phet, Priest and King» the only medi 
of Grace* Promising and Covenanting, <lin)ug|i the help ofHis Grace, to c^ 
to our Lord Jesus by &ith 01 a vi^ of Gospd obedience, vvitii M purpose of heart, as H^ 
Covenant people forever. And do also by this act of Consideration give up ourselves one 
untD anodier in the Lord, according to the vviD of God, pronnsing and engaging to deave 
and walk togetiier hi holy union and oonimunion as members of tiie same mystical body 
and as an nistituted Oiurch of Clirist, righ% instituted and established in the Love, Faith 
and order of the Gospel Further obliging ourselves by this our holy Covenant to help and 
maintahi the lH)ly word and worship of God oonmiitted to us, and endeavour ^ithfulty 
transmit it to our posterity; to ckave unto and uphold the true Gospel ministiy, as it is 
established by Jesus Christ in His Cliurch, to have it in due honourand esteem foi* the 
work^s sake; to subject ourscKes fuly and sincerely unto the ministerial esterase of the 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 280 

power of Ouist in tiie dfepensatioD of the w(Hd, tbe admi^^ 

Loitfs siippa*tD members in M Communkm and wiflM^ 

Chun^ members and their in£uit seed, as also for ttie due applic^ion rf 

discipline witti Love, Care and Faitfafidness; watching one over a 

diildren of the Covenant growing up with us; and afl in obedi»ioe to the bfesse^ 

goveniment of our Loitl Jesus Christ the atone head ofHis Church. And withal we 

fiulher eii^age ourselves to walk onkify in a way of Mowshq) and communion wi$ ^ 

neighbour Chuniies, aoooitlii^ tD the ruks (rf'the Glospd that the name of our Lord J^^ 

may be one throu^KNit an the Churches to the Gkxy of Cod the Father. 

Tliisour holy Chun:h Covenant, we do in most soktmi manner take upon ou^ 
the parts of it witti hiH purpose (tf heart as the Lord shaD help us and according to the 
measure d'Graoe received, we wffl walk before and With God fi]lty,stead&^ 
constantly in the dischai]ge of an Covenant duties each to other. And the Lord keep this 
forev^ in the thou^its and imaginations of the hearts of us His poor sai^ants to establ^ 
our hearts untD Him-and the good Lord panfon eveiy one of us that prepareth his heart 
to seek the Lord God of his &thers-Amen. 


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The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 



Year Day 




1738 8/27 Curtis, Hannah Confession of Unchastity 


1740 4/17 Drew, John Theft of wood in 1734 John Fuller 
-removed from Communion 

1741 4/26 Bozworth, Patience - Drunkenness (Confessed) 


1741 5/10 

May, Anne 

Fornication (Confessed) 


1741 11/29 

Curtis, David ~" 



Sturtevant, Caleb _ 

Unchastity as a youth 


Sturtevant, Isaac - 

Profanity & Drunkenness 


1741 12/13 

Sturtevant, Patience - 

Unchastity (Confession ) 


1742 1/3 

Surtevant, Mary - 

Unchaststy (Confession) 


1742 2/14 

Standish, Ebenezer, Jr 

Excessive drinking 


1742 2/29 

Sturtevant, Francis 



1742 4/25 

Bosworth, wife of David 

intemperate drinking 

forgiven "but not again" 

May. Israel 

intemperate drinking 


1743 6/26 

May, Israel 

intemperate drinking 


suspended for a time 

1744 1/22 

Hayward, Elizabeth 

Unchaststy (and pregnant) 


lying about the above 

Holmes, Ephriam 




The History of the Hahfax Congregational Church - 288 

1746 1/26 Leach, Lydia Falsehoods & defamation -R. Clarke 


John Leach 

May, Israel Drunkenness 

make public admission 

1746 7/12 Leach, Stephen lying about his wife being loose 
suspended (restored 5/11) 

1747 7/12 Cushman, Abner "^ Fornication 
(confession) forgiven J 

Cushman, Mary 

1747 7/20 Simmons, Job first blow- fight, lying, Jas Bryant 

- forgiven 

defamation of his wife 

1747 11/11 Bradford, Lydia unchastity before marriage 

1748 3/29 Simmons, Job lying, arson of the Cedar Swamp 
no action noted 

1749 5/21 May, Sarah fornication. Lying 

1749 10/22 King, Anne withdrawl from worship 


1749 10/29 Thayer, Abagail loose and vain conversation 

1750 5/10 rSturtevant, Josiah fighting with Wood Josh. Wood 

- Censured, forg'vn 1753 
Sturtevant, James ~1 
Bosworth, Nehemiah J not stopping the fight 

no action noted 

Bryant, James rumoring to church about the fight 

1752 6/28 Chipman, Anne Unchastity (confession) 


1755 5/11 Stetson, Elizabeth Unchastity (confession) 


1759 4/10 Palmer. Samuel absent from church, 2 

years, profanity ?? 

1762 10/28 Drew, Abigail absent from church 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church 


intemperance (Confession) 

absent from church 

1764 10/28 Palmer, Samuel 

1765 3/20 Sturtevant, Josiah 

Ripley, Jonathan 
Inglee, Moses 
Tilson, John 
Tinkham, Noah 

Tinkham, Nathan 
Fuller, Samual 
Drew, Thomas 
Wife of Drew 

1765 3/28 Sturtevant, Josiah, Jr. 
vote reconsidered refused by church 

1766 2/15 Palmer, Samuel-cursing the Council that sat in Halifax 

"stealing hay fm Ernest Sears, lying 

request to have 1765 

1781 8/23 

Allen, Micah 


no action noted 

steaPg leather fr. P Ripleyi& lying 
stealing money from W.Waterman 

stealing biscuits from Judah Wood 
stealing firewood fm Benj. Carter 
stealing rye & grain fm Z. 
Cushman of Middleboro. 
1823 7/25 Thomson, ?? abandoning - wife/ children ( W. MA.) 

1851 8/9 Sturtevant, Stafford did not support the ministry 

1860 11/5 Morse, Levi difficulty between him and the church 

1878 5/28 Crooker, Sally 

<special ch. Meeting called"- suspended 

"certain charges" 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 290 

Biography and Roll, (with some Interim/Supply Pastors of Note) 
Additional list of pastoral leaders to the present are added afterwards 

l>John Cotton -1st Pastorate in Halifax: (10/1/1734- 12/24/1755 ) 

Rev. John Cotton was a part of a long line of dynamic clergymen 
from this part of New England and the Old Country. ^^^ His great 
Grandfather was Rev. Seaborn Cotton, ^^ whose eldest Son was John 
Cotton, a Harvard Graduate in 1678 and a "fellow" of the college was 
living there when his father died, and he returned to Hampton, MA, 
and supplied the pulpit to 1688 and on May 21, he was asked to be 
ordained to minister there. He was married August 17, 1686, and 
continued to 1690. ^^^ John Cotton, Sr, was a pastor in Plymouth at the 
time of the investigation in 1696 to ordain Isaac Cushman in Plymouth's 
West Parish (i.e. Plympton) and his dissention cost him his position in 
Plymouth in 1697. ^^^ (There is also the opinion he was dismissed due to 
extra "Familliarity" with some of the children and women of the church 
in Plymouth. ) One child was Josiah Cotton born in 1679 and lived to 

^65 St. Botolph's Church is of especial interest to the descendants of HENRY AND OLIVE 

(WELBY) FARWELL, for it was in this stately old edifice that they were man-ied. Also is it 

worthy of note that their marriage, which was solemnized April 16, 1629, took place while 

the Rev. John Cotton was still vicar of the parish, the Rev. Cotton who also came to 

America and was a forceful religious leader in eariy days in New England. 

http://21 6. 1 09. 1 25. 1 30/search/cache?p=%22Rev.-n-John++Cotton%22%2CHallfax&prssweb=Sear 




bom while on route by ship to New England and thus his first name . 

^^' Rev. John Cotton's Ministry, 1686-1710; 1 .htm 
^ ^ "The Pastor of the Plymouth Church, Mr. Cotton, opposed Mr. Cushman coming to 
Plympton, but many of the church members approved. This led to a controversy in the 
Plymouth Church, and it was deemed advisable that Mr. Cotton should ask a dismission 

and the Church grant it Mr. Cotton accordingly resigned his pastorate in 1697 .'' 250 

Years of Building Christ's Kingdom: 1698-1948, by the First Congregational Church of 
Plympton -( 250^ Anniversary of Plympton, Plympton, MA, 1948. ) page 8. <Copy 
found in the Plympton Historical Society> 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 291 

1756. He married Hannah Sturtevant before mid- 1711 likely in 
Plymouth. ^^^ John Cotton was born in April, 1712, in Plymouth, MA, 
was likely tutored by his father and then attended Harvard to be 
graduated in 1730 with an A.B. and an A.M. degrees . In the midst of a 
family of movers and shakers, John seems to be more interested in the 
local church ministry. Compared to his sister at 19 years old he was far 
more laid back and psychocentric.^^** The Halifax Church and 
Community had been turned down by Rev. Ephraim Keith ^^\ It was 

^^^ 395.htm A genealogical tree., also 
printed in New England Historic and Genaeological Registe r , Volume 1, 1845, " 
Genealogical Chart of Rev. John Cotton", page 165. 

^^0 Margaret (Cotton) Sawyer , b. Plymouth, Mass. 23 January 1730, was the daughter of Rev. 
Josiah Cotton (1680-1756), Register of Deeds for Plymouth Colony [3], and his wife Hannah 
Sturtevant (1687-1756), the daughter of John Sturtevant (b. 1658) and his wife Hannah (Winslow) 
Crowe (1644-1684). Margaret marred Thomas Sawyer at Plymouth 14 September 1749. One 
can only imagine what kind of nerve it took for a minister's daughter to take up with a Southern 
sea-trader, leave what she probably considered to be "civilization," and embark upon a journey to 
a part of the world that for most New Englanders only dimly existed. In his will [5] Rev. Cotton 
added a codicil, date 14 March 1750, which touchingly bespeaks the distance that Margaret 
would put between herself and her family. 'Inasmuch as my Daughter Margarett Is gon to No. 
Carolina, where I suppose she may be well Provided for as to Temporal I Enjoyments, I do upon a 
full consideration of that affair from first to last utterly retract Revoke and Disanull That part of 
my aforewritten Will wherein I have made her an Equall Legatee with her Sisters and do allow her 
what she had had; and if She come again to thi[s] Country a Living or dwelling in my House if she 
see cause, and Twenty shillings in money and her part of the Books in full of what She is to 
receive of my Estate: and my said will in every thing else to stand good. . . . Only if she hath any 
Children at my decease I give to them (or it) Sixty pounds Old Tenour. " almost mavflower des 
cendants in the carolinas 659 90803. asp 

^^' He was a resident of Middleboro at the time. He was the seventh child of Joseph 
Keith and Elizabeth Forbes of Bridgewater, MA, £ind he married Sarah Washburn and 
they eventually were buried in South Street Graveyard in Bridgewater. (He- 1781, she 
1 791 ) Genealogical Charts at - 404.htm . I 
suspect some of the members that transferred from Middleboro knew Mr. Keith and suggested him as a 
pastor. His Grandfather or Uncle, James Keith, was the first minister in Bridgewater, arriving from 
Aberdeen, Scotland and was minister there during King Phillips War. This is the same Keith who pleaded 
successfully for the lives of King Phillip's wife and 9 year old son before the Plymouth court. King 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 292 

then that they turned to Cotton residing at Plymouth. I suspect he had 
preached in the proto church building or in homes before this time. On 
July 21, 1735, following a town meeting, the decision to call John Cotton 
was carried forth and he responded warmly to the overtures and was 
ordained and installed on October 1, 1735. ^^^ Cotton not only revised 
the Catechism for instructing youth but wrote a number of other 
books.^^^ Around 1755, Rev. Cotton's Health (esp. his voice) began to 
fail and he concluded in Halifax on December 24, 1755 and soon 
returned to Plymouth. He did supply for a short time in Plymouth at the 
Plymouth Church . ^^"^ He was also called once in Plymouth in 1765 to 
assist in a disciplinary ecclesiastical Council. He Refused. He died in 
Plymouth December 4, 1789. 


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Halifax Town Records , Book One, page 337. 

Phillips War: The history and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict by Crie B. Schultz and Mildred J. 

Torgas (Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT, 1999) page 126-8. 

^'^ Various Church Records resonate the date with Halifax's ordination of Rev Cotton. 

See Plymouth Church Records, Volume 1, Part V, page 292. 

^^^ For example in May, 1746, he wrote "Seasonable Warning to the Churches: A 

Narrative of the Transactions at Middleborough, in the County of Plymouth in settling a 

Minister ...." By John Cotton, M.A. "pastor of the church in Halifax". From the 

newspaper The Boston Weekly News Letter, Issue 2301, page 2 (Boston, MA, 

Newspaper) dated May 22, 1746. 

^^'^ This was from the Plymouth Church Records dated 5/23/1757. Notably the 

handwriting on the manuscript from this point on was that of Rev. Cotton' s. Plymouth 

Church Records (1620-1859) Volume 1, Part V, pages 305-6. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 293 

2> Rev William Patten ( 11211151 - 9/6/1766) 

Born on 11 MAR 1738, Billerica, MA, Married to Ruth Wheelock 
on June 9, 1758 (Halifax I suspect), ordained in Halifax on 2/2/ 1757, 
and the couple had 8 children. Patten was a brilliant man. In 1752, Rev. 
William Patten earned his A.B. degree from Harvard with further 
studies at Harvard to 1754. He was one of the youngest to be admitted 
there, age 12. In 1759 he was awarded an honorary degree (A.M) from 
Yale. At the age of 19, he was installed as pastor at Halifax, MA. ^^^ The 
notice of call came from a church meeting on 1/6/1757. ^^^ He is noted as 
assisting the Plymouth church in sharing the Lord's Supper on April 9, 
1758, while Rev. Cotton was absent. ^^^He resigned on September 6, 
1766, due to health, and began in Second Church of Hartford, CT 
when in 1773 he was dismissed there. ^^^ While In Halifax he delivered 
"Discourse on the day of Thanksgiving for the Repeal of the Stamp Act- 
1766" ^'^ 

3>Rev. Ephraim Briggs (4/29/1767- 12/22/1799) He was born in 
Norton, Mass on April, 19, 1736, the son of Richard Briggs (3*^**). He was 
a graduate from Harvard in 1764. He married Rebecca Waterman, 
daughter of Deacon Robert Waterman on April 5, 1768 and had eight 
sons and four daughters: (five were college graduated and became 
ministers, and included a physician, and Member of the Mass. Senate 
and chemist). They were Ephraim (3/3/1769 - 4/22/1816), William 

^^^ "The Hatch And Brood of Time, Five Phelps Families in the Atlantic World, 1 720- 

1780 ", by Peter Haring Judd, 1999, Newbury Street Press, Boston, MA. 

^^^ Church Records, Book 1 , page 128. The vote was unanimous and the response 

immediate. Some churches could not attend the 2/2/1757 installation due to severe 


^^^ Plymouth Church Records , Volume 1 , Part V, page 311. 

^^^ The family history data and charts can be found at 

http://www.wheelockgenealogy.comygedyralphdsc/d0006/g0000069.html . His final 

years must have been hard. It is evidential his "natural disorder" was alcoholism and this 

followed him banefully from Halifax to his death. There is one reference of him involved 

at the First Congregational Church of New London, CT, as an interim, likely ca 1773, 

and then his wife took him to his parents' home in Roxbury dying on January 16, 1774. 

" Patten Genealogy ". Thomas W. Baldwin, Boston, 1908), Edwin Pond Parker, " History 

of the Second Church in Hartford ", Hartford, 1892. and 

Original manuscript in the Congregational Library, Boston, MA, contained within 
Samuel Mather's "The Fall of the Mighty Lamented Removed": A Collection of Various 
Sermons: 1767-1773. <Digitized copy in Halifax Church Archives> 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 294 

(2/11/1771 - 826/1848), Rebecca (2/19/1773 - 1/16/1864), Isaac 
(5/26/1775-2/22/1862), Thomas (1/12/1778-1799), Robert Waterman 
(9/25/1779 - 4/18/1786), Richard (3/2/1782 ( 7/5/1837) , Martha ( 
4/12/1784 - 5/31/1844), Polly (2/17/1784- 5/15/ 1787), Sarah (1/25/1788 - 
9/5/1857), Charles ( 1/17/1791 - 12/18/1873), John Kingsbury 
(12/9/1794 - 12/26/1843) 7^^ On February 2, 1767, it was decided to 
extend Rev. Briggs a call to settle as pastor and was voted to be 
installed on April 8. ^** It was also noted he was coming from Norton, 
MA, and this service of installation happened on April 29, 1767. ^^^ A 
note has him and serving a church in Chatham but no specifics. Briggs 
educated his own children a well as that of his deceased brother Richard 
Briggs. <see 1790 Census ^*^> He dies in office on 12/22/1799 after 33 
years in Halifax. I find it interesting that he dies in late, 1799, as does 
Thomas and Robert Waterman Briggs, giving rise to the thought that it 
may have been due to an illness in the household or the weather. "^^^ 

children of Re^"-. E. Briggs and his wife. 
Halifax Town RecordG , Book One, Daqe 274. 

^^° New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 126, January, 1972, 

"Sons of John Briggs of Taunton , Massachusetts, pages 39-41. 

^^^CR- Book 1, page 137 ff. 

''^'^ Noted in the Plymouth Church Records, Volume 1, Part V, page 329. 

^^^ Fu-st Census of the US: 1790, "Massachusetts'^ Briggs "Rev. Ephraim- "Free White 

males 18y +" = 3, Free while males under 18 Y= 3, Free white Females = 4". ,page 


''^^ His simple obituary does not mention a cause of death. The Independent Gazetteer 

(Worchester, MA, Newspaper) Volume 1, Issue 4, page 3, dated January 28, 1800. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 295 

4> Rev. Abel Richmond (10/8/1800 - 5/1/1832 ) 
He was born in 1770 and grew up likely in Taunton where his mother 
and father lived. Parents Bathesheba ??? of Taunton & Abel 
Richmond^^^ were married on Sept. 19, 1765. Rev. Richmond was a 
graduate of Brown University in 1797 and was ordained in Halifax on 
October 8, 1800. He married Ruth Sturtevant and they had 2 children: 
Abel (11/26/1810-7/19/1886) and Ruth (4/19/1808 - 3/23/1886) . '^^ His 
32 year pastorate is marked with high energy and hard work. He died 
April 18, 1843. ^^^ A recorded grievance dated 9/26/1833 notes a group 
of members bringing grievance against the membership for their actions 
against Rev. Richmond 'injured his Christian and ministerial 
character"." (So much so that Rev. Richmond ^'cannot speak to certain 
members nor meet with any of us at God's House")^^^ This grievance 
would plague the church for the next year and more in a series of 
meetings. ^^^ Some 58 members had been attending or joining other 
church bodies. ^^ This was the period of the controversy with 
Unitarianism and some dissatisfied members withdrew to form the 
Trunk Meetinghouse in South Halifax. Also the Universalist Church 
was formed similarly in 1825 in Halifax with 23 aggrieved Cong, folk, 
as was an independent ^^Congregational" church in 1834. In 1832 in the 
Parish Society notes there was a beginning of some dissatisfaction due to 
money and the infirmity of his health. (CR: Book 4- Page 25-29). In 
1834 as a group of 12 aggrieved members initially split to form a new 
church (1834) they had Rev. Richmond as their pastor. In (4/30) 1832, 

^^^ Marriages in Early Taunton. : 

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f.htm&w=rev+%22abel+richmond%22+halifax+ma&d= YX8uxOVuN88h&icp= 1 &.intl- 


^^^^l 5.html 

^^^ Family Genealogy is found at 

^^^ The Parish Society voted to dissolve the ties between Rev. Richmond and the Society. 

This was at a meeting on 9/1 5/1 83 1 at the meetinghouse . (Church Records: Book 4 

"First Religious Society" Page 31). This was a year a head of the church body. 

^^^ From the original Parish Records: 1832-1891 : Halifax Congregational Church dated 


790 Q^ Particular note is that this is the time the "Trunk Meeting House " was organized in 

Southern Halifax (a Baptist- style) congregation. <See History of the Trunk Meeting 

House elsewhere in this study> 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 296 

Rev. Richmond became a member of the Union Calvinistic Society of 
Abingdon. ^^^ 

5> Rev. Elbridge Gerry Howe ( 11/15/1832-12/21/1835) 
Elbridge Howe was Born February 14, 1812 in Paxton, MA, to parents 
Elias Howe and Hannah Perry of Framingham and married Sabra 
Holman of Marlborough, MA, before 1841 and they had a son Steven 
Howe who was a soldier. ^^^ Rev. Howe was a graduate from Brown 
University in 1821, and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1824. 
and he died in Waukegan, XL. Rev. Howe came to Halifax from the 
Congregational Church in Southwick in early to mid-1832. Howe's first 
sermon in Halifax before his start was due to the fact that the supply. 
Rev. Cushman, was in Hanover and could not get to Halifax and Deacon 
Sylvester saw a man ride up to a local lodging house and he looked like 
a clergyman and requested his services on the spot. That clergyman was 
Rev. Howe. So his first sermon here in Halifax was actually June 3, 
1832, was invited to stay longer and declined and went on to CT. In 
July he was asked again by letter to candidate and he did on July 29^** 
and for 3 weeks. He was called on August 20*** to settle. In mid- 
September he confirmed his "Yes" by letter and Installed on September 
27, 1832. ^^"^ Much of his pastorate into 1834 dealt with the aftermath 
of Rev. Richmond's dismissal and the impact of church factions. A 
group had left to form their own church with Rev. Richmond in July, 
1834. (A total of over 80 left over several years. He did not join the 
Halifax Church until January 21, 1835. He resigned on Dec. 7, 1835, 

^^^ CR, "Religious Society Records", 1824-1883, page 130 

^^■^ EHas Howe was bom on 16 August 1780 in Framingham, Middlesex, MA. He married 

Hannah Perry , daughter of Deacon Abel Perry Jr. and Asenath Haven, in 16 December 

1810 at Framingham, Middlesex, MA. Elias Howe died on 3 September 1844 at 

Framingham, Middlesex, MA. 

^'^ Stephan A. Howe was bom on 10 April 1841 in Marlborough, Middlesex, MA, USA . He was the son 

of Elbridge Howe and Sabra Hohnan . Stephan A. Howe enlisted in military service in 1861. He was 

discharged in August 1862. He married Annie E. Wilder in 1 1 October 1866. Stephan A. Howe died on 29 

November 1898 at New Haven, New Haven, CT. USA . 

Children of Stephan A. Howe and Annie E. Wilder : Josiah Wilder Howe + b. 3 1 Jul 1 869 

Elbridge Howe+ b. 12 Oct 1871 

http://2 1 6. 1 09. 1 25 . 1 30/searcb/cache?p=Rev.+%22Elbridge+Howe%2C%22+&prssweb=Search&ei=UTF- 




^^"^ This is taken from the Church Records: Parish Records (1832-1891) , Halifax 

Congregational Church 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 297 

due to "existing circumstances" noted in a 9/21/1835 letter, meaning a 
lowering of his pay offered for the next year (RB: page 42) and left after 
Dec, 21 that year. He died June 4, 1884. < A son, Rev. Paul Sturtevant 
Howe, delivered the "oration" at the Bi-Centennial Exercises held on 
July 4, 1934.> 

6> Rev. Emerson Paine ( 12/21/1835 - 3/ / 1842 ) 

Emerson Paine was born likely in the late 1790's. He was a Graduate of 
Brown University in 1813 and he was ordained on February 14, 1816 
("not without much opposition") as noted in the Church Records of the 
First Church of Middleboro.^^^There is further evidence ^^^ that he was 
in Middleboro in 1816. ^^^ Emerson was married to Lydia Pendleton in 
1822. (Middleboro?) .^'^ He was approached by a committee after the 
12/14/1835 conclusion of Rev. Howe to supply the pulpit until 4/1/1836. 
(RB-page 44). He was asked to "Preach for a year" under contract 
which he accepted on April 14, 1836. (RB- Book 4- Pg 89-91). This 
yearly employment scenario continued until he concluded in 1842. Rev. 
Paine did supply in 1843 (low bid with Rev. Ash for supply of the pulpit 
in March, 1843) 

^^^ Book of the First Church in Middleboro, (Boston, C. P. Moody, 1852) page 43. Paine 
was dismissed from Middleboro on July 7, 1 822 and then went to pastor the Church in 
Little Compton, RI for a number of years before coming to Halifax. 

From: History of Plymouth County. MA with Biographical Sketches Compiled by Simeon D. 
Hamilton Hurd. 1884 
ch&ei=UTF-8&fr=sl V 1 -msgr&x=wrt&u=historv.ravs- 

^'^ This title gives credence of his general locale, '^A discourse at the ordination of the Rev. Emerson 
Paine to the pastoral office in the First Church of Christ in Middleborough, Mass" ., the 14th of 
February, 1816 by Thomas Williams ; First Congregational Church (Middleborough, Mass.) It shows 

likely he was ordained in Middleboro around 1816. Vital records of the town of HALIFAX, 
MASSACHUSETTS to the end of the year 1 849 Boston: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower 

Descendants, 1905, 221 pgs. 

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earch&ei=UTF-8«fefr=slvl - 

msgr&x=wrt& ma ch 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 298 

7> William Augustus Peabody ( March, 1842- September, 1842 ) 
Little information is known about Rev. Peabody. He was born in 
Salem, MA, December 6, 1816, graduated from Amherst in 1835, from 
Andover Theological Seminary in 1842. He was ordained on March 2, 
1843. It is found that he was married on March 25, 1835 in Topsfield, 
MA to Almira (??) of Middleton, MA. ^^ He died in Amherst Feb, 27, 

8> Mr. G. W. Ash ( September, 1842-June, 1843) He was a Graduate 
of Andover Theological Seminary in 1842. One notation about him in 
the '^Religious Society records" show him supplying the pulpit on 
10/1/1842 and there seems to be little onus to have him settle or not 
settle. He was to be employed for six months . (CR-BK-4: page 142-3) 
He would receive $7.00 a Sunday plus board. (Mr. Ira Sturtevant 
would get $2.00 to board him. ) The six months concluded in March, 
1843 when in a bidding war he bid higher than Rev. Paine ($350 vs 
$450) in salary but the church chose Ash eventually again at $400. By 
June Rev. Ash was no longer in the Halifax Pulpit. His final boarding 
bill was paid by the church on June 16 (12.50 for 5 weeks)*^ 

9> Rev. Freeman P. Howland ( 12/13/1843 - 3/23/1846 ) He was born 
in Sandwich. MA, on September 3, 1797, and graduated from Amherst 
College, was ordained at Hanson on October 10, 1825. It was voted in a 
church meeting of 10/23/1843 to "give Rev. Howland and invitation to 
settle". (CR- Bk2- pg 46). Before he settled some discussions around his 
support must have surfaced and his potential start in jeopardy so some 
"private subscriptions" added enough to induce him to settle and begin 
in Halifax. ( CR-BK 4- pg 153).^®* He was installed on December 13*\ 
He joined the Halifax Church on Dec. 13 as well. There must have been 
some difficulties ongoing as there was a motion in a (9/1/1845) Society 
meeting to help him "move out of the place". (CR: Bk 4: page 166-7). In 
a letter of 12/29/1845, he noted the issue of not being on time for the 


Vital Records of Essex County : Boxford Marriages: Vol 1, pg 178-9 

http://2 1 6. 1 09. 1 25 . 1 30/search/cache?p=Rev.+%22 William+Peabodv%2C%22&prssweb 

=Search&ei=UTF-8&fi-slvl - 




^^^ CR Book 7 " Parish Committee Records, 1825-1860" entry dated 6/16/1843. 

^^^ An additional gift of $50 to the ministry was offered. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 299 

meeting (worship?) and this denotes his traveling from outside the town 
perhaps as a hardship. He moved his family initially to N. Bridgewater 
to enjoy good schools for the children while a home was built or 
procured but none was. There also includes a response of a lowered 
salary amount and the inability to provide for his family. ^^^ He 
therefore resigned March 23, 1846 at a meeting in his house. (CR-Bk 2- 
pg 48) The reason was his sense that some in the church felt he was not 
doing the tasks needed and warranted and he felt the church could and 
would not support him and his family adequately. Although a man of 
much capability he left Halifax and subsequently founded the Abingdon 
Mutual Fire Insurance Company and died in Abingdon on August 10, 

10> -Interim - then Settled- Rev. John C. Thompson ( 8/1/1846 - 
8/1/1847 ) 

Rev. Thompson was in West Springfield when he was approached by 
the Halifax (society) Committee in June, 1846, to supply the pulpit.^^^ 
He was heard as a supply after the conclusion of Rev. Howland starting 
June 21, 1846 and was approached to settle in Halifax and responded to 
settle on June 29 starting on August 1, 1846. There was a contract for 
one year of ministry. The church hoped to extend this for an additional 
3 years in November, 1846, but refused. Due to ongoing health reasons. 
Rev. Thompson requested a dismission from duty on July 24, 1847 
effective on 8/l.(CR:Bk 2:pg 52) On August 4, 1847, he requested to 
halt his endeavors and this was granted. Rev. Thompson married Lucy 
(before 1846). They returned to West Springfield, MA. 

11> -Interim then Pastor- Rev. Enoch Sanford ( 9/12/1847-8/1/1851) 
Rev. Sanford had concluded his tenure in Raynham when he was 
approached by members of Halifax on September 12, 1847 to preach in 
Halifax. The terms of the contract and payment were not set but by 
October he was offered a 4 year contract to start on January 1, 1848. 
(Still at $400/ year). By April, the church was behind on his pay. At an 
April 4, 1851, meeting Rev. Sanford was asked to preach for an another 

^^^ The original is found currently in the Church Records (CR:Book 4"Haiifax Parish 
Society: 1824-1 883" between pages 168-ff 

*^^ Church Records, Book 4 "Society Records - 1824-1883", page 152. In November 
(1 l/14th Society meeting) meeting Rev Thompson was approached to see if he would 
continue past the contracted length. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 300 

4 months. ^^'^ During his tenure he was Secretary of the Plymouth 
Association of Ministers and Churches for several years. Rev. Sanford 
was released from his duties in Halifax on 5/4/1851 to go to the Hollis 
Institute in South Braintree and he was asked to remain in the pulpit 
until 8/1. He continued as Pastor at the Church in Raynham. MA, as 
well after leaving Halifax. In 1854 Enoch Sanford was called to the 
First Church in Wellfleet and was there 3 years. Rev. Sanford also 
wrote a history of the town of Berkley, MA., around 1872. ^^ 

Interim - Mr. ?? King ( 4 Sundays -8/1/1851-9/1/1851 ) Irregular 
supply for almost a year. He started on August 1, 1851. Not mentioned 
in any parish records of church nor society within the current archives. 

12.> Rev. Edward Pickett Kimball ( 12/7/1852- 11/5/1854) He was 
born in Bath, NH, on July 23, 1819, and was graduated from Bangor 
Seminary in 1850. He was pursued by the Halifax Church since early 
1852, noting in a February 17*'' Meeting " Make preparations for 
the settlement of Mr. Kimball, should the Society be disposed to join 
him in settlement... "CR:Bk 2, page 58 AND Bk 4 (society Records) on 
page 210. <$500/year>). Arrangements were accepted on March 8. He 
was ordained in Halifax on December 7, 1852. (CR: Page 59ff). The new 
meeting house was also dedicated on the same day as the installation of 
Rev. Kimball. It is critical to note that during his tenure the Meeting 
House was replaced and the "Old" one was repaired, and sold to the 
town. It was in this time the horse sheds were replaced, a musical 
instrument was bought and many other improvements. He was active 
in a number of town and church affairs including being sent as a town 
representative to the General Court. In September, 1854, it was 
written he was a lousy or ineffective preacher.*^^ On October 12, 1854, 
Rev. Kimball requested dismissal and it was granted at an October 26 
Ecclesiastical Council, effective on November 1. (CR: Bk 2: Page 62-3) 
Evidently whatever charged were leveled at him were deemed void or 
unproven. He concluded on November by 5 baptizing 4 and receiving 
one in membership. His son was baptized the next week by Rev. 

^^ CR: BK-4, page 204. Also Rev. Sanford was asked to carry a "subscription" himself 
(had always been not expected of settled pastors) to support the church. LIKELY NOT 


Rev. Enoch Sanford, The Histon/ of the Town of Berkley, Massachusetts, etc. (New York:1872). 

^^^ CR- Book4- page 238 contains the text of the diatribe. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 301 

Brainerd. On December 5, 1855 they transferred membership to the 4*** 
church in Plymouth. (CR:BK-2:Pg 64) He lived to be 101 years old and 
sent his greetings at age 94 when the church was re-dedicated in 1913. 
He died June 6, 1920. 

13. > Rev. Timothy S. Brainerd ( 6/27/1855 - 10/18/ 1866 ) 
Timothy Brainerd was born on June 1, 1826 in Heath, MA, to Timothy 
and Jane Brainerd. ^^^ (Another account has him born in Troy NY, on 
January 24, 1808 that is to the author more credible) He was 
graduated from Yale in 1830 and Andover Seminary in 1839. He was 
ordained Nov. 5, 1840. He married Harriet P. Cilley of Londonderry, 
NH, on Sept 25, 1841 at Nottingham. ^^* He was a member and pastor 
of the Presbyterian Church in Londonderry. He married again to 
Lucinda R. Rev. Brainerd supplied after Rev. Kimball concluded, 
baptizing Kimball's son on the first Sunday, Nov, 11, 1854 . He 
preached as a supply through the winter of 1854/5. The results were 
positive and at a February 10, 1855, "Society" meeting he was to be 
afforded the chance to settle as pastor. He was asked to settle at a 
meeting on June 27*\ 1855. He requested in a letter dated 10/27/ 1865, to 
conclude the "First Sabbath" of November (1865). (CR:Bk-2:pg 79) 
with the sole reason "a great delinquency on the part of the Society in 
paying his Salary" (Later descriptives show a level of obstinacies in 
payment). His resignation was finalized in January, 1866. ^^^ 

14. > Rev. William Allen Forbes (10/31/1866-4/29/1873)^^^ 

He was born in Oakham, MA, March 27, 1827. He Graduated from 
Amherst College in 1848, and from Bangor Seminary in 1851. Rev. 
Forbes supplied the pulpit in the winter and spring of 1866 and after a 


To the Year 1850 ( Published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 

at the charge of the Eddy Town Record Fund. Boston, Mass., 1915) ; 

Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger 

""" NHGR (New England Genealogical Register) . Vol. 17, No. 3, page 121 .found at 


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r.html&w=rev+timothv-f-brainerd+ma&d=RALxbk VuN4 V W&icp= 1 &.intl=us 


Church Records, 1 824-1 883, page 280 

Riverside Congregational Church' United Church of Christ , Riverside, Rhode 

Island . He is noted being there from 1904-1912. 

The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 302 

meeting on June 11, he was asked to settle in Halifax and on June 19 
given a Call. (CR-Book 4: Pages 289-90). He was examined and 
installed in Halifax on October 31, 1866. Rev William and his wife 
Lucinda A Forbes joined in Halifax on Dec. 29, 1866 from Lebanon, 
Maine. (CR:Book-2:Page 83, 86). In the spring of 1873 in a letter 
directed to the "Society" meeting on April 8, Rev. Forbes Resigns as 
pastor in Halifax and this was accepted at a meeting on April 29, 1873 
due to ill health. He eventually began a pastorate in Chesterfield Mass 
next (CR: Book 2: Page 98). He died on December 23, 1913. 

Supply - George Franklin Wright ( Aug, 1873 - Aug 21, 1874 ) George 
Wright was born in Stoughton, MA, on August 26, 1834, and was 
educated at Revere lay College, Meadville Seminary and Harvard. He 
was ordained on July 14, 1875. Rev. Wright was heard as a candidate 
in August, 1873 and was engaged for a year's contract for $750 
salary. (Providing his board did not exceed a dollar a day. f^^ In 
September 1873 Rev. Wright was engaged to fill the pulpit but the 
church did not ask if he may settle after a year. (CR: Book 2- page 98) 
On August 24, 1874, at a church meeting Rev. Wright was to be 
approached to settle as pastor in Halifax but the motion failed. Rev. 
Wright filled the pulpit in Halifax occasionally during the winter of 
1874/5. He died on Bingham, ME, on March 4, 1894. 

15.> Supply - then Pastor: Rev. Frank Louis Bristol- ( August, 1875- 
November, 1876 ) Bristol was born in Milford, CT on March 26, 1853, 
and was graduated from Andover Seminary in 1875. It is likely Mr. 
Bristol began in Halifax as a student in seminary. He was approached 
on July 9, 1875 to consider settling in Halifax. *^^ A group was formed 
On October 25, 1875 to examine Mr. Bristol to see if he were willing to 
be ordained. The examination was a success and he was ordained in 
Halifax in the Meetinghouse. (CR: Book 2: Page 100-1). In August, 
1876 he was asked to remain as pastor with a $700 salary, but in a 
response on August 7^'', he responded in the negative and the church 
asked him to conclude in 3 months. ^*^ Rev. Bristol wrote a church 
history in the early 1900's of the church in Chesterfield. There is no 

'' See Church Records Book 4 "Society Records", Page 300. 
^'^ Church Records - Book 4 "Society Records : 1824- 1873" , 307-8. 

^^^BID- pages 313-4 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 303 

note of his departure. Frank Bristol was a pastor at the Riverside 
Church in Rhode Island in the early 1900's . He died on August 4, 1917. 

16.>Supply- Acting Pastor - Rev. George Juchan - (6/4/ 1877 - Fall / 

Rev. Jucan supplied the pulpit after the departure of Rev. Bristol. In a 
meeting on June 4, 1877, the church voted to solicit Rev. Jucan to see if 
he would settle in Halifax. This was repeated in September lO**" and 
there seems to have been some haggling over the salary offered. He 
wanted $800. This was agreed. ^^"^ At that a letter went out to see if and 
when he was to be installed. ^^^ The monetary issues continued and he 
was asked to take less than the $800 salary in the next year. (Society 
Meeting on 4/5/1878) . The church could not raise the funds. This debt 
and lack of support in hand, it was decided on August 31, 1878 to sever 
ties with Rev. Jucan. 

Acting Pastor - Rev. James Wells - (4/1880 - 6/1883) Wells was born 
in Southhold , Long Island, NY , on September 11, 1815. He attended 
Jefferson College and was graduated from Bangor Seminary in 1848. 
After the departure of Rev. Jucan, Rev. Wells supplied the pulpit from 
time to time. In a society meeting of December 15, 1879, it was thought 
to approach him to see if he might stay in Halifax. On December 22" he 
was asked to preach for the next year. ($500 salary). Rev Wells joined 
the Halifax Church fellowship in April, 1880 coming from Dumbarton, 
IVH. On June 21, 1883, Rev. Wells was dismissed from Halifax to pastor 
at the Congregational Church in Douglas, MA. He died on January 31, 

Interim - George Henry Shaw - ( 1879, 1883- occasional) He was a 
native of Middleboro and supplied from time to time. 

Supply - George O. Robinson - (Summer, 1883) 

Student at Boston University and went on to mission work in the Far 


*''' First Religious Society Records - Pages 319-20. 

*'^ Original letter (9/10/1 877) of warrant in the Archives of the church. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 304 

Supply - Rev. B. Franklin. Fuller - ( December 1, 1883 - 3/1/1884) 
Rev. Fuller supplied the pulpit after the departure of Rev. Wells. At a 
"Society" meeting of October 23, 1883, it was determined to extend Rev. 
Fuller at a salary of $600 to begin in the First Sunday of December, 

1883. **^ 

Supply - Rev. Cyrus L. D. Younkin - ( March/ 1884 - 5/1/1885) 
Admitted into Fellowship on April 27, 1884, coming from a church in 
Boston (Bromfield, Church). He was a student at Boston University. He 
was in the pulpit when the church celebrated its 150**" Anniversary on 
October 28, 1884. (CR: Book 2- page 110) He must have remained in 
the vicinity for at a meeting on Dec, 13, 1885, letters of recommendation 
were sent for him to go to the Park Street Cong. Church in Boston. It is 
noted he supplied the pulpit in the Spring of 1885. *^^ 

17> Acting then Settled Pastor- Albert C. Jones (5/1/1885- ca June, 
1887) I suspect a yearly contract was used here. ^^* On April 5, 1886 an 
inquiry was extended to see if Rev. Jones would settle in Halifax. He 
was noted as a paid preacher in 1886. 

18 > Jesse H. Jones ( April, 1886 - 6/1887 ) 
At a meeting on April 5, 1886, Rev Jones was given an invitation to 
settle as a pastor. He was noted as given an invitation to preach (again) 
on June 6, 1887. (CR- Book 8- page 6) Likely he was extended originally 
a one year contract. It is noted Rev. Jones concluded his ministry in 
Halifax in June, 1887. Rev. Jones published a family memoir between 
1900 and 1902. *^^ His local home was used free of charge as a 
parsonage with a stipend for a number of years (through 1900 and 
beyond) while he lived in Philadelphia, PA. He held offices in the 

^^^ First Religious Society Records - Book 4 "Society Records : 1824-1883" pages 341- 


^^^ CR- Book 8- "Society Records, 1883-1893, page 3. 

^^^ Book 8, "Society Records", page 15 . He W2is paid $361.50 for services and this is 

not a year's salary generally so it may have been slightly less. 

http://2 1 6. 1 09. 1 25 . 1 30/search/cache?p=Rev.+Jesse+H.+Jones%2C+MA&prssvyeb=Searc 



The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 305 

Halifax Church from time to time on into the early 1900's ( ex 
Moderator in 1902), CR:Bk 3- pp93-5ff. He returned as pastor in 1897. 

Supply - contracted but not settled- William R. Joselyn ( 1888-1889 ) 

Supply -contracted but not settled Alfred Brittain - (1889-1890) He 
was approached to continue at a meeting of March 22, 1890. It was 
further decided (8+, 6-) to offer him a three month extension on June 9^** 
, 1890. ^^^ He continued on an annual basis into 1891 (pd 4/6/1891 likely 
for services through the end of 1890). , 

SUPPLY- Paul G. Viche ( ? ) 

SUPPLY - Dwight F. Mowery ( ? ) 

19> Rev. William H. McBride (1/5/1891 -March, 1892 ) 
He was born in Jacksontown, New Brunswick, on December 23, 1852. 
He was graduated from Bangor Seminary in 1886, and was ordained at 
Brownsville, Maine, on October 19, 1887, and came to Halifax area 
around 1890. His tenure is noted as began on January 5, 1891. He had 
been supplying the pulpit regularly. He and his wife, Eliza joined the 
Halifax Church on March 3, 1892. (CR: Book 3- Page 1). His support 
came jointly from the church society and the Home Missionary Society. 
*^* In short order the pastorate must have ended as there was a supply 
in place in April, 1892. Rev and Mrs. McBride transferred their 
membership to the 1** Congregational Church of Taunton on Dec. 18, 
1892. He died in Maine in 1934. 

20> Louis Ellms (8/28/ 1892 -July, 1897 ) 

Rev. Ellms was a graduate of Boston University School of theology in 
1889 and was ordained in Strong Franklin County, Maine, on August 
19, 1889. It is very likely Rev. Ellms was a part of the Congregational 
Home Missionary Society to the Native Americans and likely spoke at 
churches to engage support before returning. Rev. Ellms supplied the 
pulpit at times, one noted in June, 1892. On July 17*'', he was asked to 

*^° Church Records, Book 8 "Society" - page 28. 

*^' Noted that J. L. Thomas of the Parish Committee " be empowered to hire money if 
necessary to settle all deficiencies in the Parish". Church Records Book 8-" Society 
Records" - page 40. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 306 

be the settled pastor by the Halifax Congregation. (CR- Book 3- Page 
3). On August 28, 1892, he began in Halifax with his wife Anna, 
coming from the church in Columbia, South Dakota. He was involved 
in December, 1892 in the procurement of a new organ for the church. 
Significant to Rev. EUms' tenure is the incorporation of the church from 
1893-5. (CR Book 3- Page 8-19). He also spoke at the 200*'' Anniversary 
of the First Church of Middleboro in 1895.^" Rev. EUms resigned by 
letter at the Annual Meeting of Jan. 4, 1896. At a subsequent meeting 
(1/12) the church made overtured to have him rescind the letter. The 
issue seems to be one of non-payment or low payment. His response was 
to convene a Council and to say id he stayed it would be for another 1.5 
years specifically. (CR: Book 3- page 32-34)). The Council (in January, 
1897) said that it would be best that Rev. Ellms remain until the 
Summer of 1897 (July). At a meeting in Halifax on June 27, he noted he 
had a call to a church in New Castle, NH. Letters of recommendation 
were given and shortly the pastorate concluded. Noted he was married 
to Annie Payl in Barnstead, Belknap, NH.*^"^ In 1924, he was serving a 
church in Newington, NH. 

21> Jesse H. Jones ( 12/8/1897- April 19, 1904) 

Supply - Settled Pastor- He was born in Belleville, Canada, on march 
29, 1836, and was graduated from Harvard in 1856 then Andover 
Seminary in 1861. He was ordained at Cambridgeport, MA, on May 19, 
1861 and entered the Union Army during the Civil War, serving as 
Captain in the NY Volunteers. He was noted to be a strong scholar by 
some. His sermonic advocacy for a 5-day, 40-hour week was thought to 
be the first utterance of this concept in the country. He was editor of 
the Christian Labor Reform Journal, a socialist-leaning periodical. 
It seems Rev. Jones lived nearby in Bryantville, and after the departure 
of Rev. Ellms in 1897, supplied the pulpit fairly regularly as the church 
sought new leadership. In a meeting in Halifax on Nov. 28, 1897, it was 
suggested to ask Rev. Jones, then supplying and staying in the 
parsonage, to settle. His was confirmed on December 5, and a letter 

^^^ CR- Book 8 "society" -Page 47 (12/5/1892) 

^^^ The full text of his remarks are found in the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the First 

Congregational Church in Middleboro, MASS, published by the Church in 1895. 

^^'^ BARNSTEAD, NH -BIRTHS from the Vital Records of Barnstead. NH . Records/BamB/BamB-E.htm 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 307 

was sent on December 6. He replied Yes two days later and to begin the 
next Sunday in Dec. There was some contention over the use of the 
parsonage (NW side of "the old Poole House" actually) and potentially a 
new residence may be offered. Rev. Jones did not agree with the 
changes and held his ground through the end of 1897. On March 6, 
Letters for Rev. Jesse Jones and his wife, "E. D." were received at 
Halifax. In 1899 he helped write a new Confession of Faith for the 
church adopted 6/18/1899. Rev. Jones died in office on April 19, 1904 
and his wife withdrew from the Halifax Church and town in October, 
1904. A pulpit Bible dated 1872 that was a gift to him from the Natick 
Congregational Church Sunday School is in the church archives. 

1900 and Beyond, 

Supply- Edward C. Sargent (1905-1906 ) 

22>Paul G. Deife ( 1906-1908 ) 

23>David Flowery (1908-1909) 

24 > Leon P. F. Vauthier ( 1909-1910) 

25>Supply/ Interim/ Acting- Isaac Fleming (1911?) 

26>Supply/Interim-/Acting David T. Williams ( 1912? ) 

27>Supply/ Interim Joseph Mayer (1913? ) 

28 > Jesse Dees ( 1913-1914 ) 

29> James Tilson Thomas (1915) 

30 > Scott C. Seigle (1922-1928 ) Joint with Hanson Cong. Ch. For a 

number of vears . 

31 > Warren A. Leonard (1928-1945 ) 

32 > Kenneth B. Wyatt ( 1946-1949 ) 

33 > Harold H. Rogers ( 1949-1958 ) 

34 > H. Herbert Brautigam ( 1955-1958 ) 

35 > Theodore G. Buckley (1958-1960 ) 

36 > Bernard W. Sayer (1960-1964) 

37 > Walter L. Rudy (1964-1966 ) 
38>Gordon Kennison - (1968-1975) 

39>Rollin Johnson (1977-1986) , also Interim in 2005 

40> R. Craig MacCreary (1987- 1994) <his wife Barbara was in process 

of study towards ordination while in Halifax.> 
41>Will Sencabaugh (1998-2003) 
42> Rev. Joseph A. C. Wadsworth lU ( October 1, 2005 - Present) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 308 


Death and Funerary Practices in the Colonial and Post- 

Revolutionary Periods, 

Including remarks concerning the macabre, 

superstitious and 

customary events and practices. 

In the earliest Colonial periods, the deceased was buried without a coffin, 
being wrapped tightly in several layers of ^^ cerecloth^^ *^^, or possibly wool 
soaked well in pitch or alum. K the deceased were perhaps wealthy then 
the shroud may be made of cashmere instead of wool. 

In later periods the body of the deceased was measured by bringing 
in a stick cut to the length of the body. The cabinetmaker would then 
build a "box" for the burial. It wasn't until the 1800's until that box was 
widely used specifically as a coffin box for the burial of the body. *^^ One 
of the earliest in New England and certainly the earliest cabinetmaker in 
Connecticut to create a box for burial was William Smith of Meriden, 

*^^ cerecloth was cloth or linen dipped into hot wax. 

*^^ The word "CofFin" has a long history, being derived from the Old French word for "Little 
Basket" (cofin or coffin), which came from the Latin word "cophin-us", which later in time became 
"cofm-us". The Greek word " kofin " also antedated and compliments this word's meaning. Old 
English references of "Coffin" as meaning a box or basket date as far back as the 1300's. <From a 
sermon by WyclifFe," Pei gedridden and filden twelve cofines of relief of fyve barley loves."-1380, 
from 1480 Wardyr's Accords of Edward IV. "125 diverse cofyns of fyrre wherein the kinges bookes 
were conveyed." and from 1568 in Grafton's Chronicles (Vol 2) referring to this box as for burial of 
a body, reused after the body is placed in the grave, "He caused him to be layed in a coffin of 
Cypresse."and from Holland's Pliny (Vol 2 ) in 1601, "The coffin going with a dead corpse to a 
fimeral fire, is richly painted. Coffin had many other meanings for the colonists to include : l)an 
oblong piece of live, burning coal that is flung into a house from a fireplace with a "pop"( 1700- 
1800) , 2) an old and very unseaworthy vessel (1700-1800) , 3) a pie crust (1400-1800) or a pie 
dish, 4) a conical filter used for cooking, apothecary straining and storage of dry ingredients in a 
household (1500-1890's), 5) a part of the hoof of a horse (1600-1700), 6) The carriage of a hand 
cranked printing press (Franklin type or earlier) (1600 -1880's), 7) a case in which articles are fired 
in a fiimace (1700) , 8) case of a chrysalis (1700), 9) part of a flower (1700), and 10) a cup into 
which fits a tool within a mechanism (1800). As can be seen, this word has many uses within the 
normal conversations of people. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles collected by 
The Philogical Society, edited by James A. Murray, et al, Volume H, Part VI "CLO - CONSIGNER" 
(Oxford At the Clarendon Press, England, 1891) page 591-592 "Coffin". 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 309 

Connecticut. Curiously, it was the pattern of the mid 1800's cabinet- 
coffin makers throughout New England to place all the sawdust and 
wood scraps within the coffin after it's creation. The fear (superstition) 
was that to track any of the sawdust into the barn and have it be touched 
by another would connote death to that person soon thereafter. ^^^ 

The funeral service of an individual was quite an involved affair. In 
the 1720's or earlier it was quite proper for the women to purchase new 
bonnets, gloves, fans and black ribbons for the occasion. Men may have 
purchased white gloves and black armbands. Most local storeowners 
kept a good supply of these items in the event of a need. Humorously, the 
Reverend Arden Elliot, pastor of Boston's Old North Church, collected 
over 2,940 gift gloves which were given to him for the officiating of many 
funerals during his 32 years as pastor. Other gifts were also proper. If a 
nursemaid was quite special the person may have been given a small 
"silver spoon" as a token of love from the family. *^^ 

Within worship, the service was lengthy. The people, including 
friends and neighbors, would all gather in the meetinghouse, some 
crowding into the entryway, some listening from outside windows. 
Sometimes the family pew would have a dark ribbon upon it. The 
minister would begin the service with an introductory sermon, then 
follow it with a silent prayer and several scripture readings. This would 
be the start of a much longer sermon (not a eulogy !) followed by a 
prayer from the prayer book, concluding with a benediction. A eulogy 
may or may not have been included within the order of service. At the 
conclusion the church would empty and proceed directly into the 
cemetery as the as the bell of the church tolled. The tolling of the 

bell dates far back into time and it is believed to frighten away evil spirits 
who want to capture the soul of the departed. The procession would 
enter the graveyard and the pallbearers would place the body into the 

^^^ Death in Early America : The History, Folklore, Customs and Superstitions of Early Medicine, 
Funerals. Burials and Mourning by Margaret M. Coffin (sic) (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 
1976), page 101 ff. 

*^* Ibid, page 94-95. 

^^'^ notably the bell either tolled once for each year or a certain number of strikes for men, women, 
or for a certain number of years. It is also prudent to toll the bell to announce the death itself By the 
number of rings many times the conmiunity knew who the person was. 

*^° The early Halifax church did not have a bell so it is possible a hand bell may have been used in 
its stead. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 10 

grave and fill the hole with earth. Customarily the feet of the deceased 
were placed towards the sunrise so that *'on Resurrection Day'* the 
immortal rises facing the awakening sun (Son?). Once the filling of the 
grave is completed the minister would read a hvmn, give another short 
reflection and follow it with another benediction. ^^ 

After the conclusion of the graveside service there would more 
than likely be a funeral revelry which was quite vogue in the 1750's. This 
is a party at the home of the deceased that lasts all afternoon and could 
continue all night. It included many pounds of tobacco smoked in long 
handled clay pipes, and wine (many times this wine was apple or fruit 
brandy). The tables would be loaded with choice meats, ?seafood or 
fish(salmon or trout), vegetables, stews and sweetmeats, cheeses, sauces 
and various breads. It is possible that there were specially made cakes for 
the event for "Funeral cakes" or ^Heicht boV^ , a small cake made with 
raisins and honey made throughout New England. It was a tradition 
borrowed from the early Germans in the Middle Atlantic region.*^^ 

The local parish church graveyards were usually places where 
people wandered or gathered to picnic between church services and 
where they could read "warnings to the living along with eulogies to the 
dead."^^^ Obviously the graveyard's setting would be ripe for bizarre 
happenings. Body snatching was sadly a practice in some communities as 
medical doctors as far back as the Middle Ages paid cash rewards for the 
bodies of the deceased in order to teach students and to learn operative 
surgical practices ^^^ More than likely the local "Potter's Field" was the 
place of disinternment because that was the place of burial for the 
friendless, indigent, stranger or wayfarer, illegitimate, suicide or 
criminal. It was not consecrated ground. Although the practice of body 
stealing was heartily damned and in some cases outlawed, the medical 
profession was still well supplied. It is well documented that criminals 
were not to be buried on consecrated ground, set aside for the faithful. 
According to Mary E. Fabiszewski, cataloger at the Peabody Essex 
Museum in Salem, Massachusetts (a private library dedicated to regional 
history), in her letter dated April 27, 1994, to Rev. Wadsworth in 

*^' Ibid, pages 89-90, 126. 
*^^ Ibid, page 86-88. 
*^^ Ibid, page 125. 
^^"^ Ibid, page 129 -130. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 1 

reference to a family history enquiry some 14 years ago while living in 

"The strange burial of the murder-suicide is actually 
(as stated in the History of Tolland County^ CT) *in pursuance 
of the law of England, since Connecticut was at the time 
under English Rule, ' ,„denying suicide victims a decent 
burial: 'Every such person shall be denied the privilege 
of being buried in the common burying place of Christians, 
but shall be buried in some common highway,.,and a cartload 
of stones laid upon the grave as a brand of infamy, and as 
a warning to others to beware of the like damnable practices. ' 
(She also suspects that this practice is set out by Colonial Law.)" 

Activity such as this would be fertile ground for strange and 
macabre stories which exist throughout New England. "Ghost tales" and 
tales of the dead rising during the night, or of other bizarre practices play 
upon the superstitions and sentiments of the local community. 

Adding to this scenario was the impact of disease. The devastation 
of a serious disease was a source of superstition since there was no 
understanding of bacteria or virus. The horrible death or mutilation of 
some illnesses left untreated which may be contagious sparked many 
superstitious ideas.. Ms. Fabiszewski, referring to a turn of the century 
Encyclopedia regarding superstitions and folklore notes that "the 
burning of the heart of a deceased relative who died of 'consumption* 
(and the eating of the ashes) would prevent one's dying of the same 
disease. Many believe that these cremations may in fact be in response to 
an epidemic and this would stop the epidemic."*^^ 

In further addition to this already superstition-filled area, there 
were generous doses of stories and legends about people who were 
disinterred after their burial (sometimes due to overcrowding in a family 
cemetery or a redigging of the same plot to bury another member of the 
same family) to find the body to be "supposedly" in good condition. 
These stories permeate the colonies from North to South and were 


assuredly self-propagating due to their own retelling. 

^^^ She refers to The Encyclopedia of Superstitions. Folklore, and the Occult Sciences by Cora 
Linn Daniels and C. M. Stevans, editors (J. H. Yewdale and Sons Company, Chicago, 1903). 

^^^ In Burial, dealings with the Dead by Lucius Manlus Sergeant (1786-1867) page 66, his 
memoirs as held in the collection of the Hartford Public Library's Hartford Collection, he states an 
example of "post-death preservation" from near Boston. "Mr General Wilson Hull, buried in 
Newton Centre, Massachusetts, 40 years before, at 80 years old.. .'his skin was natural except a leg 
ulcer- burial clothes were rotted, skin was dark brown and leathery' ". Pages 477-478 contain 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 2 

These stories exist to assure that graveyards were left alone when there 
was a great market for bodies within the medical profession. 

A final part to this topic adds to the mischievous mysteriousness of 
the graveyard. Stories and legends of "ghostly apparitions** permeate the 
region from coast to frontier. Graveyard visions of deceased rising were 
both fearsome and apocalyptic which fed into the frenzy of the Great 
Awakening and later mid-1800's evangelistic movement. ^^' 

Death was an event filled with long-lasting, deeply disturbing 
sensations. Its processional was heaped with legends, superstitions and 
tall stories. To quote Ms. Fabiszewski once more and further, 
"// is important to remember,,Jhat what seems 

sinister and bizarre to us would have been acceptable 

in a superstitious society. The early colonists based 

their laws on English law, a society deeply ingrained 

in superstitious and religious traditions, so what 

seemed shocking to the author of the History of Tolland 

County (and to us) may well have been perfectly 

understandable and accepted at the time, I also agree 

with Richard Godbeer^s contention that many of these 

stories are probably not without a healthy dose of 

embellishment " ^^^ 

several other accounts of similar type from the Boston area. 

The Foxfire Book # 2 by Eliot Wigginton, editor (Archon Books, Doubleday Press, 
Garden City, NY, 1973) is anotiier source relaying a Middle Atlantic (Mountain area) story about a 
disintemment after 20 years noting the body in pristme condition until it was moved whereupon it 
fell into dust. 

*^' The American Weekly Mercury a newspaper in Newport, Rhode Island in the edition dated 
March 30, 1722, says "...During the winter of 1721-1722, a woman of Narragansett (RI) died of 
smallpox. Burial was quick and quiet for epidemics were much feared. Soon after the burial a 
strange phenomenon started to occur frequently- every evening, according to some one living 
within sight of the grave, at nine or ten o'clock a small light appeared on or near the grave site. The 
flicker grew to great bigness and brightness' until it would resemble a conflagration. Even on a dark 
night everything would be seen with distinctiveness; tufts of grass on the ground, the baric upon the 
tree. Sparks flew, A person wrapped as if in a winding sheet with arms folded could be seen. The 
light moved about very quickly over a distance, perhaps half a mile. 

The strange occurrence... was never explained satisfactorily by people who didn't believe 
that Spirits, even those who leave this universe hurriedly without fmishing what they started, have 
the power to return to earth with visible manifestations of their presence, from Death in Earlv 
America by M. M. Coffin, page 132-133. 

*^* from her letter dated 4/27/ 1994, page 1 -2. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 3 


( Reprinted from an article by Rev Wadsworth in 2006 ) 

Halifax Congregational Church And Americans First 

Sunday School 

Before the advent of ^Sunday Schools'*, the earliest 
mandate for education of children was passed in the 
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1647. (1) Notahly, a sizahle 
portion of this education program was religious in nature. 
Some of the cultural/ religious motives behind this 
mandate to educate the children was a fear that *'evil" 
doctrines, unorthodox knowledge and a general lack of 
knowledge of the (Biblical) scriptures prevailed, so it 
pressed the colonial government to ^ order that an 
elementary school be established for every town of 50 
families.'' (CT follotved in 1650) (2, 3) 

In Europe the Dutch Reformed Church had been 
providing religious schooling for youth since 1618 in the 
Netherlands and elsewhere. (4) The Colonies did not have 
^Sunday School" for children for nearly a century after the 
Pilgrims landed and founded Plymouth. 

As the New England Colonies grew and expanded into 
the frontier, new towns were created. With the formation 
of a town also automatically came the formation of an 
ecclesiastical society with a minister in place. In 1731 
various folk were given permission to gather and worship 
together and from that gathering in 1733 at the 
geographic center of Plymouth County and on the 
county's highest point the church and town of Halifax was 
begun. Each spring some of the men of the church would 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 314 

assist the pastor in teaching the children the catechism 
( 5) and this continued yearly into 1746 and further. On 
April 25, 1746, during the pastorate of Rev. John Cotton 
(1734-1754) a vote was taken to organize and teach the 
children of the town and form a Sunday School. To quote 
the original church records; 

April 25, 1746.'*Fotecf that the children should be 
catechized on Sabbath day noon as informer years and 
to request the same men to carry it on that did it last 

Also Voted :.... to desire Messers John Waterman and 
Moses Standish and Nathan Tinhham to have inspection 
over the children on Sabbath days noons and BamcLbas 
Tomson and Isaac Tinkham to overlook them in Meeting 
Time to prevent their playing^ (6) 

The five men designated to manage this endeavor 
were in two principle teams; one pair kept the children 
during the TWO worship services regularly held in the 
morning and afternoons. Another team of three were to 
manage the children at ^noontime" when families would 
bring and enjoy their lunches together and they would 
learn their catechisms. This was the first concentrated 
effort in America to teach children in Sunday School. (6). 
Most American efforts at Sunday School programming 
didn't gear up in earnest until years later when English 
churches began schools led by Robert Rakes of Gloucester 
(Eng) in the 1770's and was translated first to a church in 
Accomac County VA in 1785. Many American Churches 
generated Sunday Schools from that point on. Before this 
time it was rare and sporadic. (7, 8) 

(1) History of Eklucation by Robert Monroe, Macmillan 
Press, 1914, pp 430-441. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 5 

Plymouth, Norfolk and Barnstable Counties, 
Massachusetts by Elroy S. Thompson, Vol. I, 217- 

(2) Ibid, page 437. 

(3) A Religious History of the American People by 
Sydney Ahlstrom, Vol. I, Doubleday Press, 1975, Page 

(4) Living Theological Heritage of the United Church of 
Christ by Barbara Zikmund, Vol. 2, Pilgrim Press, 
1997, page 321. 

(5) Original Church Records (1733-1823) of the 
Ek?clesiastical Society of Halifax , <Yearly catechism 
lessons noted : 3/17/1740 (p 22), 3/9/1741 (p25), 
4/25/1744 (p 120) {with thanks to Sue Basille, 
Halifax Town Historian}> 

(6) IBID , MSS, Halifax Church Records , page 120 

(7) History of Halifax Massachusetts by Guy S. Baker, 
page 25. 

(8) The Westminster Dictionary of Church History by 
Jerold C. Bauer, editor, Westminster Press, 
Philadelphia, PA, 1971, ^Sunday School Movement" , 
page 796-7. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 316 


-250 Years of Building Christ's Church : 1698-1948, First 
Congregational Church of Plympton (250**^ Anniversary of Plympton, 
Plympton, MA, 1948) 

-1421, The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies 
(Perennial Press, England 2002) 

- The Anabaptists of the 16^'' Century by Ernest A Payne, (The Carey 
Kingsgate Press, Ltd, Oxford, England, 1940) 

~ The Archaeology of New England by Dean R. Snow (Academic Press, 
New York, 1980) 

- Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth by William T. Davis, (Darnull & 
Upham, Boston, 1887) 

~ As we Were on the Valley Shore (A Bicentennial History) by James W. 
Miller, editor,(Shore Line times Company, Guilford, CT., 1976) 

- Bradford's History of Plymouth, Massachusetts (Mass Historical 
Society, 1856) 

- Cranberries and Cannonballs by Fredrika A Burrows (Taunton, 
William S. Sullwald, 1976) 

- Chronology and Documentary Handbook of the State of 
Massachusetts by Robert I Vexler, Editor (Oceanna Publications, Dobbs 
Ferry, NY, 1978), 

-Church Records of the First Church of Christ in Middleborough 

- The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution by William C. Nell 
(Arno Press, NY, 1958 ) from a pamphlet released in 1855 by Robert F. 

- Congregationalism of the Last 300 Years by Henry Martyn Dexter 
(NY, Harper Brothers Publishers, 1880) 

- Builders of the Bay Colony by Eliot Morison (North Eastern 
University Press, Boston, 1930) 

- The Concise Oxford Dictionary ofEnslish Place-Names. Fourth 
edition. Bror Oscar Eilert Ekwall. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960 

- Congregationalism of the last 300 years by Henry Martin Dexter (NY, 
Harper Brothers Pub., 1880) 

- The Connecticut River; New England's Historic Waterway , by Edmund 
Delaney (The Globe Pequot Press, Chester, CT, 1983) Page 9. 

- Creeds of Christendom by Phillip Schaff, Volume HI "The 
Evangelical Protestant Creeds" (Baker Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1985) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 7 

~ Death in Early America : The History^ Folklore, Customs and 

Superstitions of Early Medicine, Funerals, Burials and Mourning by 

Margaret M. Coffin (sic) (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashyille, 1976), 

~ Denominationalism by Russel E. Richey, editor, (Abingdon Press, 

Nashville, TN, 1977) 

~A Dictionary of British Place-Names , A. D. Mills. Oxford Uniyersity 

Press, 2003. 

~ Early American Winters: 1604-1820 by Dayid Ludlum (AMS, Boston, 

MA, 1906) 

~ The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences by 

Cora Linn Daniels and C. M. Steyans, editors (J. H. Yewdale and Sons 

Company, Chicago, 1903). 

~ The European Reformations Sourcebook , Carter Lindberg, editor, 

(Blackwell Publishers, 2000 

~ Samuel Mather's The Fall of the Mighty Lamented Removed : A 

Collection of Various Sermons: 1767-1773 

-Federal Census of the US: 1790, ^^Massachusetts'' (Washington 

Printing Office, 1908) page 169. 

~ The Foxfire Book # 2 by Eliot Wigginton, editor (Archon Books, 

Doubleday Press, Garden City, NY, 1973 

~ General Geology of Plymouth County , by Jim Turenne; > 

- The Great River: Art and Society of the Connecticut Valley: 1635 - 
1820 by the Wadsworth Athenaeum (Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, 

~ Halifax Church Records- BOOK ONE- 1733- 1832 (Original 
Record book Pages given in the context of the study) 
~ Halifax Religious Society -BOOK FOUR- 1824-1883 (Original 
Record book) "The First Religious Society". 

- The Hatch And Brood of Time, Five Phelps Families in the Atiantic 
World, 1720-1780 ", by Peter Haring Judd, 1999, Newbury Street Press, 
Boston, MA, 

- . A Historical Sketch of the Congregational Churches in 
Massachusetts from 1620 to 1858 by Joseph S. Clark (Congregational 
Board of Publication, Boston, MA, 1858) 

- Historical Survey of Churches 1776 and 1876 " , by Rev. Increase N. 
Tarbox, DD, , published in the 1877 "Yearbook" of the Congregational 
churches of Massachusetts 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 1 8 

~ History of American Congregationalism by Gains Atkins and 

Frederick L. Fagley (Pilgrim Press, Boston, 1942) 

~ History of the Town of Carver Massachusetts, Historical review: 

1637-1916 (New Bedford, MA, E. Anton and Sons, 1913) 

~ History of the Christian Church by Phillip Schaff, Volume VII 

"Modern Christianity: The Swiss Reformation" (William B. Eerdmans, 

Grand Rapids, 1910) 

- History of Education by Robert Monroe, (Boston, Macmillan Press, 

- A History of England by Charles Oman (Henry Holt and Company, 
NY, 1900) 

^ History of the Indian of Connecticut from the Earliest Known to the 

Present by John W. DeForest,(Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, 

CT., 1852) 

-- - History of the Town of Carver by Henry S. Griffith (E. Anderson & 

Sons, New Bedford, MA, 1913) 

~ History of Halifax by Guy S. Baker (Guy S. Baker, 1976) 

^ History of the Indian Wars in New England from First Settlement to 

the Termination of the War with King Phillip in 1673 by Rev. William 

Hubbard , Vol. 1, 1677 

- - Indian Place Names of New England compiled by John C. Huden (NY, 

Museum of the American Indian Heye Foundation, 1902) 

~ Rev. Enoch Sanford, The History of the Town of Berkley, 

Massachusetts n etc. (New York: 1872). 

~ Major Bradford's History of Kingston, MA ; 1726-1976 , by Doris 

Johnson Melville (Kingston, Town of Kingston, 1976, ) 

~ History of the Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts by Thomas 

Weston, A.M. ; Houghton and Mifflin Co., Boston, MA (Riverside 

Press), 1906 

- History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts with Illustrations, with 
Biographical Sketches by D, Hamilton Hurd (J. W. Lewis and Co., 

~ History of Plymouth, Norfolk and Barnstable Counties, Massachusetts 

by Elroy S. Thompson, Volume 1 (Lewis Historical Publishing 

Company, Inc, New York, 1928) 

~ History of PIvmpton: 1640-1945 by Eugene Wright, edited by 

Charles H. Bucknell, Plympton 

~ The History of the Popes, their Church and State, and Especially of 

their Confleicts with Protestantism in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 3 19 

Centuries by Leopold Ranke , E. Foster, Trans., Volumes I and II 

(Henry G. Bohn, London, 1847) 

~ History of the Puritans , (4 Volumes) by S. D. Neal, 1732 

- The Indian in Connecticut by Charles Whipple (Berkshire Trayeler 
Press, Stockbridge, MA, 1972) 

~ Inyentory of Uniyersalist Archives in Massachusetts, prepared by the 
Historical Records Survey Division of Community Service Programs of 
the Works Progress Administration in 1942 : See: Trumpet and 
Uniyersalist Magazine 

- King Khillips War: The History & Legacy of America's Forgotten 
Conflict by Cris Schultz and Millicent J. Torgas (Covington Press, 
Woodstock, VT, 1999) 

~ Samuel Mather, Liberties of the Church in New England , Chapter 

VII, (Boston, 1738), 

~ The Living Theological Heritage of the United Church of Christ by 

Barbara Brown Zikmund, Volume 1 "Ancient and medieval Legacies" 

~ The Loyalists of Massachusetts , by E. Alfred Jones (Baltimore, The 

Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969) 

~ Loyalists of Massachusetts , by Jesse H. Stark (Jesse H Stark, 1910) 

~. Major Bradford's Town: A history of Kingston, MA : 1726-1976 

(Kingston, Town of Kingston, 1976) 

- Maritime History of Massachusetts ; 1783-1860 by Samuel Eliot 
Morison (Samuel L. Morison, 1921), 

~: Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants , 1905 
-Middlebury, 1669; Halifax, 1734 by Harry S. Brown compiler. 
Original unpublished manuscript at Holmes Library, Halifax, MA 

- New England Revivals by Robert Taylor (Boston, 1846), 

'-. A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles collected by The 

Philogical Society, edited by James A. Murray, et al, (Oxford At the 

Clarendon Press, England, 1891) 

-North American Indians by the Smithsonian Institution (various authors 

inclusively): Volume 15 (The Smithsonian Institution; The Government 

Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1978.) 

~ Northfield Mountain Interpreter by Claudia F. Sammartino, et al, 

(Berlin, CT) 

- Of Tea and Tories by Cynthia Hagan Krussel (Marshfield 
Bicentennial Committee, 1776 


The History of the Hahfax Congregational Church - 320 

- Old Cemeteries of SouthEastern, Mass '% compiiation of records by 
Charles M. Thatcher in the late 1880's (Middleborough Public Library, 
Middleborough, MA, 1995 

~ An Oration presented before the students of Brown University in the 

College Chapel, July 4, 1817, in commendation of the Anniversary of 

American Indemendance , by Benjamin Allen (Providence, Wheeler 

Printers, 1817). 

-{ Plymouth County Records , Book One, page 7} 

-. Plympton Ma, Parish and Town Records, Book the First, January 

1701- March 1734 

^ Plympton, MA: Historical Sketches, etc by Charles H. Bucknell, 

Typed Manuscript, 1973 

- - The Puritan in England and New England by Ezra Hoyt Byington, 

DD, (University Press, Roberts Bro., Boston, MA, 1896) 

- Puritan in England, Holland and America , by Douglas Campbell 
(Coverleaf missing), 1892 

~ The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century ( Beacon Pressm Boston, 


~ A Religious History of the American People by Sydney Ahlstrom, Vol. 

I, Doubleday Press, 1975, Page 356-7. 

- - The Shaping of American Congregationalism: 1620-1957 by John Von 

Rohr (Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH, 1992 

~ The Social Sources of Denominationalism by H. Richard Niebuhr, 

(New American Library, 1929) 

- Timetables of History , by Bernard Grun (Touchstone Books, Simon 
and Schuster, New York, 1982) 

-"Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society", April 2, 1935, page 
30, " Domesday Book and After" by H.P. Kendall, with thanks to the 
Central Library, Northgate, Halifax, UK, :Gary Borrows, Head of 

- Two Hundredth Anniversary of the First Congregational Church in 
Middleboro, MASS , published by the Church in 1895 

- Valley of Discord, Church and Society along the Connecticut River, 
1636-1725 , by Paul R. Lucas (Univ. Press of N. England, Hanover, N.H., 

~ Vital records of the Town of Halifax, MA to the end of the Year 1849 , 
by George E. Brown, transcriber, <Massachusetts Society of Mayflower 
Descendants, Boston, 1905> 


The History of the HaUfax Congregational Church - 321 


To the Year 1850 ( Published by the New England Historic 
Genealogical Society, at the charge of the Eddy Town Record 
Fund. Boston, Mass., 1915) ; Transcribed by Dave Swerdfeger 
~ From War, Technology and Tactics among New England Indians , 
Madison Books, 1991 

~ The Westminster Dictionary of Church History by Jerold C. Bauer, 
editor, Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA, 1971 

- The Wordsworth Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer C. 
Brewer <Wordsworth Editions, Ltd, Hertforshire, England, 1993> 

~ Yesterday and Today : Town of Halifax , 250*'' Anniyersary Book (The 
History Committee of Halifax, 1984) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 322 




- The Atias of North American Exploration by William H. 
Goetzmann and Glyndwr Williams (Prentice Hall, NY, 1992) 
" King Phillips War; the History and Legacy of Americans 

Forgotten Conflict by Craig B. Schultz and Millicent J. 
Torgas (Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT, 1999) 

- The Archaeology of New England by Dean R. Snow 
(Academic Press, New York, 1980) 

<Religious Context and Background> 

- The Age of Reform; an Intellectual and Religious History of 

- Late Medieyal and Reformation Europe ; 1250-1550 by Steyen 
Ozment (Yale Uniyersity Press, 1980) 

-: The European Reformations Sourcebook , Carter Lindberg, 
editor, (Blackwell Publishers, 2000) 

- Erasmus, The Anabaptists and the Great Commission by 
Abraham Friesen (William B. Eerdmens Pub., Cambridge, 
England, 1998) esp. " Anabaptists and the Great Commission, 
pages 43-75. 

- The Story Of Ciyilization by Will Durant, Vol. VI "The 
Reformation" (Simon and Schuster, NY, 1957) , also by 
Durant, The Age of Reason Begins (Esp.- Chapters I "The 
Great Queen", V "Mary Queen of Scotts", XVH" Reyolt in the 

- Great Voices of the Reformation by Harry Emerson Fosdick, 
(The Modern Library, NY, 1952 (Random House)) 

-The Liying Theological Heritage of the United Church of Christ 
_by Barbara Brown Zikmund, Volume 1 "Ancient and Medieyal 
Legacies", and Volume 2 "Reformation Roots". 

- Worship and Theology in England, from Crammer to Baxter 
and Fox, 1534-1690 by Horton Dayis (William B Eerdmens, 
Cambridge, England, 1996) 

- The Shaping of American Congregationalism 1620-1957 by 
John Von Rohr (Pilgrim Press, 1992) 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 323 

- Pivmouth Colony: its History and People by Eugene Aubrey 
Stratton (Ancestry Publishing, Salt Lake City, UT, 1986), Esp. 
pages 1- 72. 

- Documents of the English Reformation by Gerald Bray, editor 
(Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 1992) 

- A Religious History of the American People by Sydney E. 
Ahlstrom (Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1975), Volume One 

- Protestantism by J. Leslie Dunstan, Editor, (George Brazillier, 
NY, 1961 

- History of Christianity; Reformation to the Presen t by 
Kenneth Scott Latourette, Volume II (Prince Press, Yale, 2000) 

- The Shaping of American Congregationalism: 1620- 1957 by 
John Von Rohr (Pilgrim Press, Cleyeland, 1992) 

- Visible Saints: The History of the Puritan Idea by Edmund S. 
Morgan (New Your Uniyersity Press, NY, 1961) 

- Churches of Christ of the Congregational Way in New 
England by Richard H. Taylor (Benton Harbor, Michigan, 
1989) "Massachusetts : Plymouth County", esp. page 151. 

- Remarkable High Tories: Supporters of King and Parliament 
in the Reyolutionary Massachusetts , by William H. B. Thomas 
(Heritage Books, Bowie, MD, 2001), 

- History of the Old Colony Railroad from 1849 - present. 
Illustrated., (Harper and Brothers, pub., Boston, 1895) 

- Phillips War: The history and Legacy of Americans Forgotten 
Conflict by Crie B. Schultz and Mildred J. Torgas 
(Countryman Press, Woodstock, VT, 1999) 



- - Information, eyidence and discussion 
concerning the Chinese Treasure Fleet that sailed from China in 1421 
and landed in seyeral places including Deighton Rock (Taunton Riyer), 
Narragansett Bay, Boston, etc. 

- Information about the Taunton 
River Basin and the Native Americans who entered and populated the 
region. Some reference to Glacial Lake Taunton. 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 324 
d24.htm - site sharing the Will of John Tomson. 

-Boston Public Library Website: <Free e-card required> 
Location of early newspapers through visual searches and imaged 
databases, 1700-1821 

- Library Newspaper Archives : Middleboro Public Library, 
Plymouth Public Library, Boston Public Library for smaller local 


- The Conquest of the Americas , Lecture by Prof. Marshall C. 
Eakin, Vanderbilt University (Distributed by the Teaching Company of 
Chantilly, VA ) . audiotape- Part 1, Lecture # 5, Part 2, Lectures #18- 

19, 22-24. 

MANUSCRIPTS Referenced and used- 

-Halifax Congregational Church: 

a> BOOK 1 - Church Records, Book one "1733-1823" 

b>BOOK 2 - Church Records, 1824-1891 

C> BOOK 3- Church Records , 1892-1914 

d>BOOK 4 - Parish Society Records, 1823-1883 

e> BOOK 5- Parish Committee Financial Records, 1825-1860 

f> BOOK 6 - Records of the Parish Society , 1885 - 1893 

g>BOOK 7 - Parish Committee Book- 1825 - 1860 

h>BOOK 8 - Parish Congregational Society- 1885-1993 

i> BOOK 1- Ladies Benevolent Missionary Society, etc. 

j> Book 2 - Ladies Benevolent Circle - 1853-55 
k>Book 3- Ladies Benevolent Circle - 1855- 58 
I> Books 4-8 : Ladies Sevi^ing Circle - 1863-1900+ 
m> Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor- 


The History of the HaHfax Congregational Church - 325 

-Trunk Meeting House of South Halifax (Baptist) (1835 - 1861 ): 
a> Parish Record Book (1835 -1861) 

- Other Manuscripts : 

a> Yearbook of the Congregational Churches of 
Massachusetts Years 1838-1900 (Most volumes included) can 
be located at the Congregational Library, Boston, MA. 

- Town Records Utilized Primarily: 

a> Halifax Town Meetings- 1734- 1850 -Numerous 
volumes in the Archives of the Town Hall Clerk: 
Vol. 1- 1734-1827 
Vol. 2 -1827-1842 
Vol. 3- 1842-1852 
Vol. 4- 1853-1875 
Vol. 5- 1875-1908 
Selectman's Records- 1733-1790 

E- Archivists and Research Assistance for 
further inquiry : 

1- Mr. Jim MacDonald -Church Historian: First 
Church of Marlboro 

2- Mrs. Sue Basille - Town Historian : Halifax Museum 
and Halifax Historical Society 

3- Mrs. Pat Killeen - Reference Librarian: Holmes 
Library, Halifax, MA\ 

4- Mrs. Marcia Clarke - Town Clerk of Halifax 

5- Mrs. Peggy Bendroth, Archivist and Managing 
Librarian - The Congregational Library, Boston, MA 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 326 


1. Native Village dating around 1600 15 

2. Turtle Pictograph from the Middleborough Area 15 

3. Gravestones of John Tomson and Samuel Fuller in the 

Old Burying Ground, Nemasket Hill 45 

4. Map of the Transcribed Deed of the Church Property when 

initially acquired - 1732 58 

5. Map of Halifax, MA. (Annotated) - 1734 59 

6. Halifax Town Records : 1735- Hiring of John Cotton, the 

first pastor of the Church 66 

7. Sketch of the "First Meetinghouse" as gleaned from 

Guy Baker's History Volume 68 

8. Layout of the interior of the First Meetinghouse before the 

renovation of 1752 70-71 

9. Photo of the Manomet Church (Plymouth) 71 

10. First Page of the Earliest Recordbook of the 

Halifax Church -1734 - 73 

11. Trio of Photographs of the Halifax Church in 

Halifax England 77 

12. Promissory Note given to John Cotton to entice him 

to settle in Halifax as Pastor - 1735 81 

13. Promissory Note given to Rev. Cotton to give him future building 

materials for his home (eventually) 83 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 327 

14. Robert Waterman's Purchase as agent of the church of ministry 

land for the use of the pastor as a homestead - 1741 96 

15. Sketch of the land plot of the ministry land North of the 

Bridgewater Path (where Cotton built and lived) - 97 

16. Halifax Town Notes concerning the meetinghouse renovations 

in 1752 to enlarge and improve the space 98 

17. Call of Rev. Briggs in 1755 as noted in the Halifax Town 

Records 119 

18. Early Photograph of Joseph Dunbar's Tavern 129 

19. Declaration of Independence's "Order" to have the Declaration 

read in churches on the first Sunday after receiving it. (as 
recorded in the Halifax Town Records -July 7, 1776 138 

20. Membership Transfer for Deacon Oliver Holmes - 1788 .... 139 

21. Frontispiece and flyleaf of Mary Sturtevant's book of various 

religious essays - 1791- 143 

22. Ordination Invitation for Rev. Abel Richmond - 1800 - .... 153 

23. Pew Arrangement in the First Meetinghouse (post-1752 
renovation diagram) - ca. 1822 160-161 

24. Trunk Meeting house - photograph of the structure - 

cal900 166 

25. Newspaper Article- Dedication of the Trunk Meetinghouse 
from 1853 167 

26. Rough historical notes about the Trunk meetinghouse by town 

historian Guy Baker 169 

27. Universalist Church of Halifax - photo of the structure - .... 170 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 328 

28. Newspaper Article: Dedication of the Universalist Church of 

Halifax - 1829 171 

29. Map of Halifax- 1832 (annotated) 173 

30. Photograph of the home of Nathaniel Morton of Halifax with 
insert photograph of Cyrus Morton 175 

31. Rev. Howland's Transfer of church Membership to 

Halifax- 1843- 186 

32. Resignation of Rev. Thompson — 1846 - 191 

33. Rev. Enoch Sanford - photo of a portrait - 1847 192 

34. First Offer and refusal of the Town to buy the "Old 
Meetinghouse" as a town house from Halifax 

Town Records 194 

35. Sketch of the Town Green and buildings around 1853/4 .... 197 

36. Note to pay Ephraim Thompson by the Women's Sewing 

Circle for the carting of new cushions made in Boston 
for the New Meetinghouse in Halifax 207 

37. Early Photograph of the Church and Town "house" after the 

construction of the War Monument 208 

38. Early Photograph of the Rear of the Meetinghouse Horse 

Sheds (the new ones) built in 1854-5 209 

39. First Page of the Women's Benevolent Society of Halifax.... 214 

40. Registry list of items sent by the women's group to assist 

in their outreach efforts 215 

41. Map of Halifax- 1871 - (Annotated) 225 

42. Home of Thomas and Simeon Sturtevant - 1875- 236 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 329 

43. Photograph of Rev. Frank Bristol - ca 1875 - 239 

44. Revision of the By-Laws of the Church of 1876 including 

the "Temperance" Clause about the use of alcohol 240 

45. Official Pledge of the Halifax Lodge of Good Templars 

(Temperance Movement) 241 

46. Ledger Entry of Mary Wood of Halifax, containing the 

chronology and financial obligations of her membership 

in this group 242 

47. Map of Halifax -1879- 245 

48. Photograph of the Vestry of the church - ca 1890's 254 

49. Newspaper Article: Review of the first "outing" of the Halifax 

Ladies Sewing Circle to Plymouth - 1892 255 

50. Photograph of the front of the Sanctuary - ca. 1890's 255 

51. Newspaper Article: Review of the second "outing" of the 

Halifax Ladies Sewing Circle to Duxbury - 1893 - 256 

52. Pew Arrangement of the Meetinghouse interior at the time 

of the Incorporation of the Church- 1885 257 

53. Part of the State issued Certificate of Incorporation issued 

to the Church- 1887 259 

54. Order of Service used by a regional gathering of the Young 

People's Christian Endeavor group hosted by the group 

In Halifax 262 

55. "Old Poole House" where Rev. Jones (and other pastors) lived 

while they served the church 266 

56. "Niagara Burner" installed in the church - 1897 - 268 


The History of the Halifax Congregational Church - 330 

57. Late 1800's photograph of the Halifax Church with Horse 

sheds to the rear visible 272 

58. Pen and ink illustration of the method of moving dwellings 

from ca. 1850's 273 

59. - Children of Rev. John Cotton as noted in the Halifax Town 

Records 294 

60. Children of Rev. Ephraim Briggs as noted in the Halifax 

Town Records 296 




Key = A = Appendix ; n = Footnote 
Ph= Photograph annotation 

The Names below may have slightly altered spellings from the various 
sources and are noted here as posted in the source. Phonetic spelling 
may slightly have also varied name spelling as the passage of time 

Alden, Ichabod 


Allen, Hannah 


Allen, Micah 


Allen, Robert 


Angier, Samuel (Rev) 


Ash, G.,W. (Rev) 


Atwood, Israel 


Atwood, John 


Atwood, Lusanna 


Backus, Isaac, (Rev) 


Bearse, Thankful 


BesKse, Jerusha, 


BesKSt, Deborah, 


Bearse, Abiah 

72,87n211, 100n241, 

Bearse, Experience 


Bearse, Apphia 


Bearse, Asa 


Bearse, Austin 


Bearse, Benjamin 


Bearse, Betty 

89n217 , 102n243, 

Bearse, Consider 


Bearse, Elizabeth 

9(kQS8, 102n243, 117n295, 

Bearse, Foord May 




Bearse, Hannah 


Bearse, Hezekiah 


Bearse, Jabez 


Bearse, James 

50nl34, 54 

Bearse, James Jr., 


Bearse, John 


Bearse, Joseph 


Bearse, Kesia 


Bearse, Levi 


Bearse, Lois 


Bearse, Lucy 


Bearse, Mary 

Vkim, 117ii295, 



Bearse, Mial, Jr, 

Bearse, Rebekah 

Bearse, Ruth 

Bearse, Sarah 

Bease, Sarah, 

Bearse, Shuball 

Bearse, Zebulon 

Bearse. Newcomb 

Boiler, B. Franklin (Rev) 

Bosworth , Jane 

Bosworth, Abigail 

Bosworth, Asaph 

Bosworth, Bela 

Bosworth, David 

Bosworth, David Jr., 

Bosworth, Deborah 

Bosworth, Eli 

Bosworth, Ichabod 

Bosworth, Isaac 

Bosworth, James 

Bosworth, John 

Bosworth, Jonathan 

Bosworth, Joseph 

Bosworth, Josiah 

Bosworth, Lydia 

Bosworth, Nehemiah 

Bosworth, Noah 

Bosworth, Patience 

Bosworth, Peter 

Bosworth, Richard 

Bosworth, Ruth 

Bosworth, Salah 

Bosworth, Sarah 

Bosworth, Susanna 

Bosworth, Zenos 

Bourn, UNEZ (perhaps Eunice) 

Bourn, William 

Bourne, Duncina 

Bourne, Newcomb 

Bourne, Phoebe 

Bozworth, Deborah 

Bozworth, Ichabod 

Bozworth, James 

Bozworth, Joseph 

Bozworth, Zadok 

Bradford, John 

Bradford, Lydia 

Bradford, Susanna 

Brainerd, Harriet 

Brainerd, Martha 

Brainerd, Timothy G. (Rev) 






54, 65, 72, 81, 85, 87n211, 153n391, 154n391, 


54, 72, 

154n391 , 172, 183, 

153n391, 185n494, 
54, 86n210, 87n211, 154n391, 288A 

72, 153n391, 154n391, 287A 



9(kim, 102n243, 

89n217, 91n218, 




Brewster, William 


Briggs, David 


Briggs, Ephraim (Rev) 

117, 118,139,152,293-294A 

Briggs, Abigail 

90taLaS; 117n295, 

Briggs, Barnabas 

90tt218s 91n218, 

Briggs, Ebenezer 


Briggs, Ephraim 


Briggs, Eunice 


Briggs, John 

54, 65nl59, 72, 

Briggs, John, Jr. 


Briggs, Joseph 


Briggs, Lewis 


Briggs, Lois 


Briggs, Mary Sarah 


Briggs, Nathan 


Briggs, Remember 


Briggs, Samuel 


Briggs, Seth 


Briggs, Tabitha 


Briggs, William 


Briggs, William, Jr. 


Briggs. Sarah 


Briggs. Loes 


Bristol, Frank Louis (Rev) 


Brittain, Alfred (Rev) 

251, 305A 

Britton, Zephaniah 


Browne, Robert 


Bryant , Thomas 


Bryant, Abiah 


Bryant, Cephas 


Bryant, Dorcas 


Bryant, Experience 


Bryant, Hannah 


Bryant, Hezekiah 


Bryant, James 

54,65,72, 101-102, 288A 

Bryant, Jonathan 

50nl34, 57, 

Bryant, Mary 


Bryant, Molly 


Bryant, Paul 


Bryant, Samuel 

50nl34, 155n397, 

Bryant, Sarah 

50nl34, %dm, 

Bryant, Stephen 


Bryant, Thomas 


Bryant, William, Jr. 




Carter, Betty Sears 


Carver, John 


Champlain, Samuel de 


Chandler, Simeon 


Chipman, Anna 


Chipman, David 




Church, Cpt 


Churchill, Zadoc, Corp. 


Clark, Elizabeth 


Clark, Joanna 


Clark, Jonathan 


Clark, Lemuel 


Clark, Martha 




Clarke, Ebenezer 


Clarke, Jabez 


Clarke, John 


Clarke, Mercy 


Clarke, Ruth 


Clipton, Richard 


Cobb, Ebenezer 

64nl58, 65nl59, 72, 



Cooke, Mary 


Cornish, John 


Cornish, Sally 


Cortheral, Cherihah 


Cortis, Benjamin 


Cortis, John 


Cotton, John 


Cotton, John, Jr. (Rev,) 

65, 68nl64, 80-83, 88n212, 104, 290-292A 

Cotton, Josiah 


Cotton, Mary 


Cotton, Sophia 




Omde, Thomas 

72,81,91n218, 105, 

Croade, Elizabeth 


Croade, Molly 


Croade, Nathaniel 


Croade, Priscilla 


Croade, Rachel 


Croade, Ruth 


Croade, Sarah 


Crooker, Mary 

193n523, 243, 

Crooker, Moses 


Crooker, Rosanda 


Crooker, Sally 


Curtis , Hannah 


Curtis, Benjamin 


Curtis, Benjamin, Jr, 


Curtis, Caleb 


Curtis, David 

86n210, 91n218, 287A 

Curtis, Elizjibeth 


Curtis, Ezekiel 


Curtis, Hannah 


Curtis, Japhat 


Curtis, Jesse 


Curtis, Jonathan 




Curtis, Katherine 


Curtis, Margaret 


Curtis, Mary 


Curtis, Sylvanus 


Curtis. Experience 


Curtts, Mary 


Gushing, Ruth 


Cushing, Hannah 

9(kQm, 117n295 

Cushing, Ignatius 

54, 64-65nl59, 72, 

Cushing, Ignatius, Jr. 


Cushing, Isaiah 


Cushing, Loring 


Cushing, Lucy 


Cushing, Mercy 


Cushing, Nathaniel, Jr. 


Cushing, Noah 

91n218, 96n231, 

Cushing, Ollysse 


Cushing, Rachel 


Cushing, Ruth 

91W^8; 100n241, 

Cushing, Sarah 

102n243, 117n295, 

Cushing, Thomas 


Cushing, Zattu 


Cushman, Mary 


Cushman, Abagail 


Cushman, Abner 


Cushman, Betty 


Cushman, Deborah 


Cushman, Eleazar 


Cushman, Huldah 


Cushman, Isaac 


Cushman, Mary 


Cushman, Moses 


Cushman, Noah 


Cushman, Rebekah 


Cushman, Sarah 


Damson, George 


Daniel, Peter 


Deborah, Martha 


Derby, John 


Dermer, Thomas 


Dewey; Elias 


Drew, Mary 

72, 102n243, 

Drew, Elizabeth 


Drew, Abigail 

9fWW^ 100n241, 114,288A 

Drew, Ezra 


Drew, Georgianna 


Drew, Hannah 


Drew, James 


Drew, John 


Drew, John, Jr. 


Drew, Susana 




Drew, Thomas 


Drew, Thomas, Jr. 


Dunbar, Benjamin 


Dunbar, Daniel 

117, 131, 137n337, 

Dunbar, Elizabeth 


Dunbar, Jesse 


Dunbar, John 


Dunbar, Joseph 

90tta8; 10^106^ 

Dunbar, Mercy 


Dunbar, Ruth 

9Cki218; 117n295, 



Eddy, Joel 


Eddy, Elkanah 


Eddy, Levi 


Eddy, Abigail 


Eddy, Abigail, Jr. 


Eddy, Betty 


Eddy, Caleb 


Eddy, Joel 


Eddy, Jonathan 


Eddy, Obadiah 


Eddy, Rachel 




Edwards, Jonathan (Rev) 


Ellis, Bennett 


EUms, Louis (Rev) 

254, 259, 260-261, 263, 305-306A 

EUms, Annie Paul 






Faxon, Elijah 


Fletcher, John 


Fletcher, Ralph 


Floury, Lydia 


Flowry, Lydia 


Forbes, William A. (Rev,) 

232, 302-303 A, 

Ford, Josiah 


Foster, Isaac 


Freeman, Oliver 


Freeman, Oran, Corp. 


Freeman, Sarah 




Fuller, Alfred 


Fuller, Betty 


Fuller, Chipman 


FuUer, Ebenezer 

55,64nl58,65,72, 82, 98n236, 99, 105, 223n591 

Fuller, Ebenezer, Jr. 


FuUer, Elizabeth 


Fuller, Ephraim 


Fuller, Eunice 


Fuller, Faith 


Fuller, Hannah 

72, 100n241, 154n391, 176, 



Fuller, Huldah 
Fuller, Isaac Dr. 
Fuller, John 
Fuller, John, Jr. 
Fuller, Llemuel 
Fuller, Lois 
Fuller, Lois Drew 
Fuller, Lusanna 
Fuller, Lydia 
Fuller, Martha 
Fuller, Mary, Jr. 
Fuller, Nancy 
Fuller, Nathan 
Fuller, Nelson 
Fuller, Noah 
Fuller, Sally 
Fuller, Samuel 
Fuller, Samuel (Dr.) 
Fuller, Samuel , Jr. 
Fuller, Sarah 
Fuller, Susanna 
Fuller, Thankful 
Fuller, Thomas 
Fuller, Zadok 
Georges, Sir Fernando 
Gilbert, Heresay 
Gilbert, Benjamin 
Gilbert, Hannah 
Gilbert, Nathaniel 
Gilbert, Rebekah 
Goodman, Marietta 
Goodwin, Marietta 
Gookin, Daniel 
Gosnold, Bartholomew 
Gurney, Charles 
Hall, Bonini 
Hall, Ferdinand 
Hall, Joseph 
Harden, Jonathan 
Harlow, Capt. Edward 
Harlow, Sylvanus 
Harris, Zillah 
Hart, Elizabeth 
Hatch, Gamaliel 
Hatch, Lydia 
Hathaway, Ebenezer 
Hathaway, Seabury 
Haul, Molly 
Hayward, Elizabeth 
Hayward, Molly 
Holmes , Darius 



55, 64nl58, 72, 91n218 





100n241, 102n243, 117n295, 154n391, 




114,117n295, 172,289A 
50, 89n217, 


89n217, 91n218, 






Holmes, Josiah 


Holmes, Preston B. 


Holmes, Abiah 


Holmes, Absolom 


Holmes, Betty 


Holmes, Ephraim 


Holmes, Howland (MD) 


Holmes, Isaac 


Holmes, Joseph 


Holmes, Kitty 


Holmes, Lewis 


Holmes, Lydia 

223n591, 220n579 

Holmes, Melvin 




Holmes, Sally 


Holmes, Sophia 


Holmes, Stephen 


Holmes, Thomas 


Holmes, William 


Howard, Abiel 


Howard, Chelsius 


Howe, Eldridge G. (Rev) 


Howland, Freeman P. (Rev) 

187, 298-299A 

Howland, Isaac 


Hunt, Thomas 


Inglee, Ebenezer 


Inglee, Moses 


Inglee. Abigail 


Jackson, Elizabeth 


Jackson, Deborah 

87n211, 100n241, 

Jackson, Hopestill 


Jackson, Ransom 


Jackson, Rebekah 


Jackson, Susanna 


Johnson, Elijah 


Johnson, Merril 


Jones, Albert C. 


Jones, Jesse. H. (Rev) 


Joslin, Marquis F. 


Juchan, George (Rev) 


Justice, Alice 


Justice, Elizabeth 


Justice, William 


Keith, Ephraim (Rev.) 


Keith, James 


Keith, James (Rev) 

42nll8,43nl24, 80-81, 

Kimball, Edward P. (Rev) 

193, 300-301 A 

King Charles 


King Henry VHI 


King James 


King Phillip 




King, Anne 


King, Isaac 


King, Josepli 


King, Mary 


Knopp, William 


Knox, John 

17, 18n35 

Ladmann, Mary 


Lawton, George 


Lawton, Robert 


Leach, J^ 


Leach, Anna 

86n210, 100n241, 193n523, 

Leach, Betty 


Leach, Deborah 


Leach, Ebenezer 


Leach, Elizabeth 


Leach, Giles 

86n210, 92n218, 

Leach, Jenny 


Leach, John 


Leach, Juhn 


Leach, Lemuel 


Leach, Levi 


Leach, Lydia 


Leach, Micah 

87n211, 9(ki218^ 

Leach, Rebena 


Leach, Sarah 


Leach, Seth 


Leach, Simson 


Leach, Steven 


Leach, Sylvanus 

92n218, 172 

Leach, Thomas 


Leonard, Zadok 


Loring, Ignatius 


Loring, Jacob 


Loring, Jonathan 


Loring, Molly 


Lyon, Obadiah 


Lyons, Joshua 




May, Edward 


May, Elisha 


May, Elizabeth 


May, Israel 


May, Ruth 


May, Sarah 


McBride, William (Rev) 


Miller, Alfred 


Miller, Nathan 


Morse, Ellis 


Morse, Fanny 


Morse, I^vi 

190n507, 193n523,223n591, 


Morton, L, H. (Mrs) 




Morton, Albert 
Morton, Bethia H. 
Morton, Cyrus (MD) 
Morton, Lydia 
Morton, Nathaniel, 
Packard, Edith 
Packard; Harrison 
Packson, George 
Paine, Emerson, (Rev) 



Palmer, Isaac 

Palmer, Lucy 

Palmer, Prince 

Palmer, Samuel 

Paris, Jabez 

Parker, Abbey 

Parker, Carrie 

Parmala, Anson H. (Rev) 

Patten, Ruth 

Patten, Sarah 

Patten, William 

Patten, William (Rev) 

Peabody, William Augustus 


Pomeroy, Francis 

Pool, Caroline 

Poole, Sarah E. 

Pope, Francis 

Pope, Henry 

Pope, Lydia 

Porter, Cynthia 

Pratt, Charlotte 

Pratt, E. Austin 

Pratt, Mercy 

Pratt, Stillman 

Pring, Martin 

Priscilla Waterman. 

Pummery, Hannah 

Queen Elizabeth 

Ransom, Susanna 

Ransom, Mary 

Ransom, Susana 

Reed, Rhoda 

Richmond, Harriet 

Richmond, Abel (Rev) 

Richmond, Amanda 

Richmond, Cordilla 

Richmond, Cyrus 

Richmond, Oliver 

Richmond, Rolinda 

Rider, Ezra 


185n494, 223n591, 


152, 175ph, 




183, 297A 













106, 113,293A, 

183, 298A 


65, 85, 9(kam, 





223n591, 233, 















153, 157, 162, 165n427, 175, 177n457, 295-296A 



183, 223n591 


185n494, 213, 




Rider, Priscilla 
Ripley, Sylvan us 
Ripley, Abigail 
Ripley, Hannah 
Ripley, Isaiah , Sgt. 
Ripley, Jonathan 
Ripley, Peres 
Ripley, Rebekah 
Robinson, John 
Samson, Abiah, Jr. 
Samson, Bethiah 
Samson, Rachel 
Sanford, Enoch (Rev) 
Sears, Edward 
Sears, Betty 
Sears, Deborah 
Sears, Desire 
Sears, Dorothy 
Sears, Hannah 
Sears, James 
Sears, Jonathan 
Sears, Josiah 
Sears, Mary 
Sears, Mercy 
Sears, Sarah 
Semmins, Isaac 
Sherman, T. S. 
Simmons, Hannah 
Simmons, Job 
Simmons, Rachel 
Simmons, Rebekah 
Smith, John 
Smith, John (Rev.) 
Sbopw, James 
Snow, Mahitabel 
Soul, Esther 
Soule, Aeroline 
Soule, Deborah 
Soule, George 
Soule, Isaac 
Soule, Jabez 
Soule, Jacob 
Soule, John 
Soule, Nathaniel 
Soule, Rachel 
Soule. Abagail 
Squanto (Tisquantum) 
Stand ish. Desire 

Stand ish, Ebenezer, Jr. 

153n391, 154n391, 

91n218, 114, 288A 

91n218, 117n295, 

192, 299-300A 

89n217, 102n243, 

91n218, 155n397, 

86n210, 288A 
13, 22n47, 


9kim 100n241, 



90ti218, 155n397, 164, 183, 195, 203n539, 233, 


33, 46, 92n218, 130n323, 





91n218, 287A, 



Standish, Ichabod 
Standish, John 
Standish, Moses 
Standish, Rebekah 
Standish, Sarah 
Standish, Zerviah 
Standish, Phoebe 
Stetson, Elizabeth 
Stetson, Sarah 
Sturtevant, Betty 
Sturtevant, Ira 
Sturtevant, Charles 
Sturtevant, Elizabeth 
Sturtevant, Lydia 
Sturtevant, Paul 
Sturtevant, Priscilla 
Sturtevant, Susanna 
Sturtevant, Winslow 
Sturtevant, Caleb 
Sturtevant, Deborah 
Sturtevant, Desire 
Sturtevant, Eli 
Sturtevant, Elizabeth 
Sturtevant, Fear 
Sturtevant, Foster 
Sturtevant, Francis 
Sturtevant, Hannah 
Sturtevant, Hannah, Jr. 
Sturtevant, Huldah 
Sturtevant, Ira, 
Sturtevant, Isaac 
Sturtevant, James 
Sturtevant, Jesse 
Sturtevant, Jesse Fuller 
Sturtevant, Josiah 
Sturtevant, Josiah, Capt 
Sturtevant, Josiah, Jr. 
Sturtevant, Lemuel 
Sturtevant, Lois 
Sturtevant, Lucy 
Sturtevant, Martha 
Sturtevant, Mary 
Sturtevant, Mercy 
Sturtevant, Moses 
Sturtevant, Nancy 
Sturtevant, Patience 
Sturtevant, Paul 
Sturtevant, Rebekah 
Sturtevant, Saba 
Sturtevant, Samuel, Jr., 
Sturtevant, Samuel 36n96, 

55, 64nl58, 72, 



102, 153n391, 






136, 155n397, 287A 








117n295, 185n494, 



203n539, 234, 243, 
9(ki218;l72, 185n494, 287A, 
54, 72, 91n218, 288A 
91n218, 142, 

54,89n217, 114, 11 7n295, 288-289 A 

117n295, 131n327 
87n211 , 102n243, 

72, 9kQm,VG,2SJA 

54, 112, 
37n98, 46, 50nl34, 54, 65nl59, 72, 85, 91n218, 92n218, 155, 



Sturtevant, Samuel Stafford 
Sturtevant, Saphrona 
Sturtevant, Sarah 
Sturtevant, Simeon 
Sturtevant, Susanna 
Sturtevant, Theophilus 
Sturtevant, Thomas 
Sturtevant, Ward 
Sturtevant, William 
Sturtevant, Winslow 
Swain, David 
Sylvester, "Deacon" 
Sylvester, Joseph 
Sylvester, Lydia R. 
Tennet, Gilbert (Rev.) 
Thayer, Abigail 
Thomas, James 
Thomas, Nathaniel Ray 
Thompson, Lucy M. 
Thompson, Adam, Sgt. 
Thompson, Albert (Mrs) 
Thompson, Barnabas 
Thompson, Catherine 
Thompson, Cephas, Sgt 
Thompson, Clara 
Thompson, Deborah 
Thompson, Eliab, Corp. 
Thompson, Elijah 
Thompson, Ephraim 
Thompson, Francis 
Thompson, Giles, Sgt. 
Thompson, Hannah M. 
Thompson, Ichabod 
Thompson, Jabez P., Corp. 
Thompson, Jacob 
Thompson, James 
Thompson, John 
Thompson, John C. (Rev.) 
Thompson, Morton 
Thompson, Nehemiah 
Thompson, Nehemiah, Lieut. 
Thompson, Packard 
Thompson, Sabina 
Thompson, Sarah B 
Thompson, Thomas 
Thompson, Zadok 
Thompson, Zebulon, Musician 
Thomson, Atwood 
Thomson, Jane 
Thomson, Asenath 
Thomson, Clara, 

91n218, 181, 223n591, 289 A, 


86n210,87n211, 102n243, 153n391, 

91n218 , 234, 

























203n539, 220n579, 243 








223n591, 233, 243, 

191, 299A 







64nl58, 164, 









Thomson, Fear 
Thomson, Hannah 
Thomson, Lorna 
Thomson, Nehemiah 
Thomson, Robert 
Thomson, Susana 
Tilden, Thomas Holes 
Tillman, John 
Tillson , Desire 
Tillson, Abbey 
Tillson, Joanna 
Tillson. Mary 
Tilson, Elizabeth 
Tilson, Ephriam 
Tilson, Hannah 
Tilson, John 
Tilson, Josiah 
Tilson, Mercy 
Tilson, Moses 
Tilson, W. (Mrs.) 
Tinkham, Sarah 
Tinkham, Ebenezer 
Tinkham, Ephraim 
Tinkham, Isaac 
Tinkham, Isaac, Jr. 
Tinkham, Nathan 
Tinkham, Noah 
Tinkham, Ruth 
Tinkham, Abijah 
Tdnson, Thomas 
Tomson, Jacob 
Tomson, Abigail 
Tomson, Elizabeth 
Tomson, Isaac 
Tomson, Nathan 
Tomson, Seth 
Tomson, Abner 
Tomson, Andrew 
Tomson, Asa 
Tomson, Barnabas 
Tomson, Claissa 
Tomson, Deborah 
Tomson, Eliphalet 
Tomson, Ephraim 
Tomson, Hannah 
Tomson, Isaac 
Tomson, Jabez 
Tomson, Jacob 
Tomson, Jane 
Tomson, Joanna 







154n391, 176, 




220n579, 223n591 




155n397, 183 








34n90, 45, 65 

34, 36n96, 46, 64nl58, 91n218, 

55, 64nl58, 72, 85, 



114, 289A 






91n218, 155n397, 



91n218, 183, 



86n210, 87n211, 90^218^ 100n241, 



Tomson, John 
Tomson, John, Jr. 
Tomson, John, Sr. 
Tomson, Joseph 
Tomson, Joshua 
Tomson, Josiah 
Tomson, Lydia 
Tomson, Martha 
Tomson, Mary 
Tomson, Moses 
Tomson, Nathaniel 
Tomson, Noah 
Tomson, Olive 
Tomson, Peter 
Tomson, Peter, Jr. 
Tomson, Rachel 
Tomson, Samuel 
Tomson, Sarah 
Tomson, Susana 
Tomson, Zaccheus 
Tomson, Zadok 
Tomson, Zedadiah , Capt. 
Tomson, Zerviah 
TdDson. Joseph, DeaoGD 
Toolman, William 
Tupper, Ichabod 
Tupper, William 
Turner, Job 
Timer, Maiy 
Turner, Elizabeth 
Vaughn, Jesse 
Verrizanno, Giavanno de 
Wade, James 
Wade, John 
Wadsworth, William 
Wadsworth, Abiah 
Waterman, Chloe 
Waterman, Elira Jane 
Waterman, Abigail 
Waterman, Anna 
Waterman, Anne 
Waterman, Anthony 
Waterman, Anthony, Jr. 
Waterman, Benjamin 


45, 54, 64nl58, 

29, 30, 31n78, 43-44,45, 72, 86n210, 87n211, 

89n217, 9fti218^ 





72,90tt218,91n218, 102n243, 







89n217, 100n241, 



91n218, 183, 

152, 183, 











50nl34, 79, 86n210, 91n218, 117n295, 




Waterman, Betty 
Waterman, Cephas 
Waterman, David 
Waterman, Deborah 
Waterman, Ebenezer 
Waterman, Edward May 
Waterman, Eleazar 
Waterman, Eliphalet 
Waterman, Elisha 
Waterman, Elizabeth 
Waterman, Fanny 
Waterman, Fear 
Waterman, Hannah 
Waterman, Huidah 
Waterman, J. S. 
Waterman, James 
Waterman, Joanna 
Waterman, John 
Waterman, John, 3"* 
Waterman, John, Jr. 
Waterman, Jonathan 
Waterman, Joseph, Jr. 
Waterman, Joshua 
Waterman, Josiah 
Waterman, Leander 
Waterman, Lucy 
Waterman, Lydia 
Waterman, Martha 
Waterman, Mary 
Waterman, Mary, Jr., 
Waterman, Melsar 
Waterman, Nathaniel 
Waterman, Olive 
Waterman, Patience 
Waterman, Peres 
Waterman, Phoebe 
Waterman, Rachel 
Waterman, Rebekah 
Waterman, Robert 
Waterman, Robert, 3"* 
Waterman, Robert, (Deacon) 
Waterman, Robert, Jr. 
Waterman, Ruth 
Waterman, Samuel 
Waterman, Sarah 
Waterman, Seth 
Waterman, Susana 
Waterman, Thaddeus 
Waterman, Thomas 
Waterman, Zebadiah 









91n218, 92n218 



91n218, 154n391, 
87n211 ,90tiZ18; 
50nl34, 50nl35, 72, 105, 155, 159, 

154n391, 154n393, 185n494 



100n241, 102n243, 

38, 46, 50nl35, 52, 54, 65, 72, 81nl94, 117n295, 
89, 136, 





Waterman, Edward 


Waterman. WUUam 


Watson, George 




Wells, James (Rev) 




Weston, Benjamin 


Whitefield, George (Rev.) 


Whitgift, John 


Whitman , Zilpah 


Whitney, Mary 


Willis, Labina 


Winslow, Josias,(Maj.) 


Winthrop, Governor 


Wood , John 

155n397, 172, 

Wood, Mary 

72,87n211, 242ph, 

Wood, Clara 


Wood, Cyrus 


Wood, Ebenezer 


Wood, Francis 


Wood, Hannah 


Wood, Jerusha 


Wood, Joshua 




Wood, Mary Cynthia 


Wood, Mehitabel 


Wood, Nathan 


Wood, Robina 


Wood, Tily 


Wood, Timothy 


Wright, Sarah 


Wright. George (Rev) 

234, 302A 



Younkin, L. D. (Rev) 

248, 304A 

Zipporah (a Negro), 





Key = A= Appendix ; n = Footnote ; 

Ph= Photograph annotation 



Act of Banishment 


Act of Confiscation 


Acts of Supremacy 


Acts of Uniformity 


Agawam Path 






American Bible Society 


American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions 151 

American Board of Missions 


American Educational Society 


American Home Mission Society 


American Missionary Assoc. 

216, 259 

American Sunday School Union 


Amistad (ship) 

216, 219, 



Andover Theol. Seminary 

146, 184, 185, 239, 

Anniversary - 150*** 


Anti- Masonic Movement 


Anti- Slavery 

136, 217ff, 

Armory, powderhouse 

120, 155n396, 196-197, 

Articles of Confederation 


Assawompsett Lake 


Associations & Councils 

80, 84, 89, 93n227, 148-149, 


112, 147, 

Bell for Church 

184, 236 

Bog Iron 


Boston Massacre 


Bounties - nuisance animals 


Boycott, in Halifax 


Bridge across Monpossett 


Bridgewater Path 


Buzzard's Bay Lobe 




Cape Cod 


Cape Cod Lobe 


Catechism Lessons 


Cemetery, Center 

232, 233n621, 



Centennial Party 




Civil War 

226ff, 226n594, 

Clerk, Church, first one 


Congregational Church Bible Society 259 

Congregational Church- Townsend 72nl76, 


145, 151, 211, 



Covenant, first signed 






Croquet Party 


Deacon, first ones 


Deacons, first ones 


Declaration of Independence 


Ecclesiastical Council in Halifax 

163, 190, 220, 220n579, 223n591, 232, 




English Reformation 


Enterprise Lodge of Good Tempi; 

ars 241 



Evolution VS Creation 


Excise Act 


Fireworks, first use 


First Parish Society 

145, 158, 

Fortune (ship) 


Freedmen (freed slaves) 

226, 230, 

French and Indian War 

98, 103, 107, 

Fuller's Iron Works 


Fuller-Foundry Cluster 




Gainsborough on Trent 


General Court of MASS. 


Great Awakening, first 

79, 92ff, 

Great Awakening, Second 


Halfway Covenant 


Halifax, etymology & origin 


Halifax, Nova Scotia 


Handmaid (ship) 




Harvard University 




Higginson Fleet 


Holmes Iron 


Home Mission Society 

243, 253, 265, 

Horse Sheds 

205n545, 209ph, 

Incorporation of the church 

237, 258, 274ff, 



Indian Churches 

41, 99n236, 





Iron Foundries 

38nl01, 50nl36, 

Iron ore (Bog iron) 


Jones River 

13,36, 37, 

Jones River Basin 


King PhiOip's War 


King's Highway 


Kingston - 


Ladies Society (Various names) 

196, 203, 243, 

Lake Taunton (glacial) 


Larentian Ice Sheet 


Lawn Parties 


Lexington Alarm 


Leyden, Holland 


Library, Holmes 


Mail Routes 


Major's Purchase 

30, 47-48, 

Manomet church illust. 






Marshfield Blunderer 


Massachusetts Missionary Soc. 


Massachusetts Path 




Mayflower and Speedwell 


Mayflower Compact 


Meetinghouse, New Building 

193ff, 206-208, 

Member, dismissed, flrst 


Member, non charter, first 


Membership- initial 




Middleberry Fort 




Middleboro, First Parish 

55, 94n227, 

Militia in Halifax 


Ministry Lot 

97ph, 105-106, 108, 

118n299, 152n387, 


Minute Men 


Mission Campaign, Freedman 


Mission Campaign, Wisconsin 


Mission Campaign. Boston- Intemperate Women 


Mission Campaigns, Indian Orphans- NY 


Mission Campaigns, Michigan 




Monomoyik (Chatham) 




Monpossett Lake 

Music, in worship/ instruments 




Nemasket Path 


New Amsterdam 

New Lights 

Newspapers (colonial) 

Niagara Burner (gas lighting) 



Old Lights 

Outings, Ladies Circle, 

Pamet (Provincetown) 

Patuxet (Plymouth) 



Pilgrim Association/ Conference 


Plymouth Conference 

Plymouth County Seat 

Plymouth Path 


Plympton Congregational Ch. 

Plympton-Middleberry Cluster 

Plympton-Monpossett Cluster 

Pope's Tavern 


Pulpit, first meetinghouse 



Railway, Old Colony RR 

Reformed Church of Geneva 

Renovations, First Meetinghouse 

Renovations, Second Meetinghouse 

Revivals, religious 


Sanitary Commission 

Schools, public 


Sexton , first one 

Shipbuilding industry 

Shipbuilding- Kingston, MA 

Silver Lake 


96, 151n380, 156, 157-158, 204, 222, 234, 255, 
14n24, 27, 


28n70,39, 40nl06, 


93, 103 

254-255, 256, 262, 264, 265, 


29, 64, 83-84, 

36n96, 52 

159, 181n473, 

17, 20, 24, 

98-100, 120-121, 156, 

186-187, 187n497, 200-201, 216, 246, 249, 

100, 107, 221, 226n593, 237, 




Slavery and Slaves 102n243, 136n333, 

SmaUpox 13n 21, 139, 

South Massachusetts Education Soc. 179 

Stagecoaches 151 

Stamp Act 109n266, 110, llln273, 121, 

Statehood- Massachusetts 142n351 

Stone weir 40 

Stoves in Meetinghouse 156, 159, 176n454, 248 

Strawberry Festival 251 

Streets in Halifax: Named and Posted 264 

Sturtevant Burying Ground 


Sunday School, First 

87-88, 88n212, Appendix H, 179, 

Taunton River 

9, 9 nlO, 

Taylor, the Rev. Soldier-AWOL 


Tea "parties" 


Tea Act 


Temperance Movement & Society 

179n465, 180n467, 227-228, 240-241, 

The Lord's Day Alliance 




Titicut Hill 


Titicut settlement 



111, 123, 131, 131n327, 136, 137n337, 

Town House or Town Hall 


Trunk Meetinghouse- Halifax 


Turtle Island 

11 n 15, 


24, 60nl53, 

Uncle Tom's Cabin 




United Colonies of N. England 




Universalist Church- Halifax 






War of 1812 




Whig Political Party 


White Island 


Winnetuxet River 


Winthrop Fleet 


Women's Tea 


Women's Vote 




Woodcroft Farm 




Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor 
Zou Wen Fleet 11 n 17 

250-251, 259-260, 268 




- -r-